UCLan works with NHS to address shortage of psychologists

11 January 2021

University’s School of Psychology and Computer Science will deliver the ground-breaking new courses for graduates

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is working with North West NHS organisations to deliver a ground-breaking new career route for psychology graduates.

From this month, NHS organisations in the North West Coast area will be able to offer training posts for the new role of Associate Psychological Practitioner (APP) and trainee APP. The new course aims to help address the shortage of clinical psychology provision in the NHS and, if successful, it will be offered across the country.

A total of 50 places will be offered in the initial pilot project, with UCLan delivering training towards a new Postgraduate Diploma Associate Practitioner Psychologist (PGDip APP).

The course, which was developed by Dr Kathryn Gardner and Dr Mark Roy from UCLan’s School of Psychology and Computer Science, was created as a result of work led by the Innovation Agency and funded by NHS England, to explore how to increase the number of psychology professionals in the NHS and create more entry points for graduates.

Dr Roy said: “The course philosophy is to develop core practitioner psychologist competencies that are central to effective clinical practice in all services, at the same time as allowing trainees to develop specialist expertise within their service speciality.”

The plan to create a new career route was developed in partnership with NHS Local Workforce Action Boards (LWABs) in Cheshire and Merseyside and Lancashire and South Cumbria.

"The course philosophy is to develop core practitioner psychologist competencies that are central to effective clinical practice in all services"

Dr Mark Roy, Course Director BSc Clinical Psychology

Innovation Agency Director of Transformation Carole Spencer said: “Psychology is one of the most popular and largest undergraduate degree subjects, but it is recognised that a significant proportion of psychology graduates who are interested in a career in health care find it unavailable to them as a career choice.”

Chris Samosa, of Cheshire and Merseyside LWAB, said: “Mental health services are a national priority, particularly during the pandemic, and this programme will help underpin the recovery of local systems and the workforce. The training posts will give aspiring professionals the grounding they need on which to launch their careers.”

Paula Roles, of Lancashire and South Cumbria LWAB, said: “We aim to help meet some of the immediate workforce challenges in priority areas of psychology. Some graduates may have a significant clinical course component in their degrees, but they do not have the relevant clinical experience, or placements to allow them to enter the workforce on graduation at the same level as, say, a staff nurse would. These new training posts will help to address this gap.”

Trainee Associate Psychology Practitioners will be appointed on one-year training contracts to deliver psychological service input in a mentored role across a range of services from adult mental health, through primary care and health psychology. This appointment will come with a registration on the PGDipAPP course at UCLan.

Interviews took place in December for the first 50 places, with recruits due to take up their places during January. The course will be evaluated with a view to being extended nationally.