Success for innovative partnership
UCLan and local health organisations celebrate award win
An award-winning project involving a ground-breaking University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) course has scooped another health industry prize.
A scheme to help tackle a shortage of psychological professionals in the NHS, which involved UCLan creating a new course for associate psychological practitioners (APPs), was named Primary Care Initiative of the Year at the HSJ Patient Safety Awards.
The University has worked with Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust (L&SC), the Primary Care Networks in Lancashire and South Cumbria, Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria ICS, Health Education England, and the North-West Coast Innovation Agency to deliver the course.
APPs are psychology graduates who complete a specifically designed postgraduate diploma and are trained in core competencies, including assessment, formulation and brief intervention skills.
"“It is an absolute privilege to win this award and to work with an incredible team who are passionate about driving change and improving patient care"— Dr Kathryn Gardner, APP Course Co-Director at UCLan
Dr Kathryn Gardner, APP Course Co-Director at UCLan, said: “It is an absolute privilege to win this award and to work with an incredible team who are passionate about driving change and improving patient care. This award is recognition of the significant impact that our trainee and qualified APPs are having in primary care networks, which is just one of several settings that APPs can work in to help meet the rising demand for mental health services.”
The prestigious award recognises the work being undertaken in primary care across the region that addresses the rising unmet mental health need in general practice and community settings. In L&SC, this innovative workforce supply solution is helping meet demand for mental health practitioners.
The HSJ judges commented they “were impressed by the presentation from the Trust’s team resulting in clear benefits for patients. They said there was excellent evidence of widespread engagement with key stakeholders including patients and carers to develop new ways of working in an under resourced clinical area.”
Dr Gita E Bhutani, National Development Lead Psychological Professions Network for L&SC, added: “We’re delighted to have won the award. It is real recognition for the new role we’ve developed across the North West and the difference our Associate Psychological Practitioners make in primary care to people seeking help for mild mental health difficulties, as well as increasing capacity within primary care and general practice.
"It is real recognition for the new role we’ve developed across the North West and the difference our Associate Psychological Practitioners make in primary care"— Dr Gita E Bhutani, National Development Lead Psychological Professions Network for Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust
“This project would not have been possible without the input and support of the Trust and partner organisations including Health Education England in the North West, Health Education England, Innovation Agency, University of Central Lancashire and the North West Psychological Professions Network.”
By March 2022, there were 33 APPs in L&SC, in 32 primary care networks and delivering a mental health prevention and promotion service in GP practices. The team’s evaluation results, published in the Primary Care Research and Development Journal, have already demonstrated clinically and statistically significant improvements in patients’ well-being and resilience and reductions in depression and anxiety. The study concluded the introduction of this new workforce into General Practice (GP) settings to deliver brief mental health prevention and promotion interventions is both clinically effective and acceptable to patients, GP staff and psychology graduates.
The HSJ Patient Safety Awards continue to be the most esteemed accolade of healthcare service excellence in the UK and are not just a celebration of success stories but also a platform to shape the future of the NHS. These awards help drive improvements in culture and quality across the NHS and recognise and reward the hard-working teams and individuals who are striving to deliver improved patient care.