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Government body to launch new advanced clinical practice academy

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An “academy” is to be created in England to improve and standardise routes into advanced clinical practice (ACP) for nurses and other healthcare professionals.

The new hub may also take on responsibility for accrediting advanced clinical practice programmes and establish a directory of practitioners.

“Advanced clinical practice is an important policy area across the UK”

Brian Webster-Henderson

Government arms’-length body Health Education England has asked universities, employers, healthcare professionals to collaborate on the design of the academy. 

The HEE plans were revealed in a new report published today by the Council of Deans of Health (see attached PDF below), which represents UK universities educating nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

In the report, the council recognised that creating such an academy would be difficult and would require all relevant organisations to get on board.

It stated: “Creating a body or framework which can encompass a variety of existing initiatives requires significant infrastructure, and ongoing resource for accreditation or list maintenance once implemented.

“Its creation will undoubtedly be challenging,” said the report. “HEE has been clear that it is unlikely to work without widespread engagement and co-production.”

“Creating a body or framework which can encompass a variety of existing initiatives requires significant infrastructure”

Council of Deans

The council said that universities may want to consider weather accreditation of ACP programmes would be “helpful or excessive in the context of existing quality assurance measures”.

It also made clear that the proposals were in the early stages and that questions still needed to be answered on the role and function of the academy and what it would mean for universities.

The report has been released as part of an ongoing partnership between HEE and the Council of Deans to further develop advanced clinical practice education, following a series of major policy changes.

In 2017, HEE published the first ever national framework setting out what ACP is and what the requirements for entry are in a bid to establish clarity over of the role and improve consistency between education programmes.

A voluntary accreditation scheme for advanced nurses was also launched by the Royal College of Nursing earlier that year.

For its latest report, the Council of Deans gathered views from universities delivering these courses about the current challenges they faced and how further progress could be made. 

Among the recommendations made in the document are:

  • Clarifying the role of specialist competencies and specialism more generally in ACP education
  • Promoting consistency and transparency of processes for the accreditation or recognition of relevant prior learning or prior experiential learning
  • Ensuring universities have adequate notice of funding for ACP programmes to allow them to recruit students and plan programmes
  • Encouraging greater collaboration between educators and employers involved in ACP

Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, chair of the council, said: “ACP is an important policy area across the UK and an area of interest to all the professions we represent.

“Through this work in England, our members have clearly expressed their willingness to work with employers to deliver the advanced practice education needed by the health service,” he added.

Council of Deans of Health

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Brian Webster-Henderson

Professor Ruth Taylor, workforce lead for the council, said joint working and strategic planning between universities and employers at both local and national level was key to growing ACP education and developing the further workforce.

Responding to the report, an HEE spokesman said: “HEE is working with various partners across the system to co-produce the most effective educational support to scaling ACP across England. This is currently referred to as the ‘academy’.”

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