We are delighted that the PPN model has been recognised by Health Education England as a way of bringing the voice and impact of psychological professionals into national conversations about workforce. The HEE Mental Health Programme Board supported our proposal that where HEE regions wanted to support and fund them, new PPN networks can be established across the new seven NHS regions. These will be important in bringing all psychological professionals together to shape the implementation of NHS policy, in line with the needs of the public. New networks are under discussion in Yorkshire and Humber, the South West and the Midlands, and we hope to support networks to form across England. Chairs and Programme Managers from each Network will join a PPN England Board which will ensure a joined up approach and maximum impact. Exciting times!
Over the past six months I was also asked to Co-chair a Task and Finish Group for HEE nationally looking at “New Roles in the Psychological Professions”. This was part of an effort to scale up the implementation of New Roles set out in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. About 25 psychological professionals from across England have joined the group as expert stakeholders, and Laura Lea has been supporting us from an Expert by Experience perspective. The group has now concluded its initial work and highlighted a number of big issues that need to be taken forward, including establishing a comprehensive national workforce plan for the psychological professions, proposing ways of making psychological professions training and career paths easier to navigate and scaling up extended roles for psychological professionals such as advanced clinical practitioner roles and as approved clinicians. The group has also established a need for implementation and evaluation principles to be agreed to underpin the roll out of any psychological new roles so that these are safely governed and make the biggest difference to service users and carers, and we have set out an ambition to review and improve service user and carer involvement in all psychological professions training programmes.
At NHS England, work is currently underway to generate a workforce implementation plan to deliver on the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan. We estimate a need for the current 20,000 psychological professions workforce to increase by up to 50% over the next five years. This is obviously very ambitious and will need a joined up approach across established and newer roles and disciplines. I have been working with colleagues from the New Roles Group to shape this plan so that psychological professionals are included as important contributors to delivering on it.
With NHSE/I and HEE colleagues I will be establishing an ongoing national Psychological Professions Workforce Group to take this work forward over the coming year, and hope to give a further update here in the next edition of e-news!
Adrian Whittington, Chair of PPN KSS