I’m Helen Gough, a podiatrist and registrant member of the HCPC’s Council since January 2020, I’m leading the Expert Reference Group of six registrant Council members who are guiding, supporting and advising HCPC on this important project.
I wanted to be involved in this project, because I believe it is an incredibly timely piece of work and something that will greatly benefit our registrants and in turn, our service users. It is vital that we determine and evidence what advanced practice exists in the UK, and consider what might exist in the future across the 15 professions that the HCPC regulates.
A huge amount of work has already been undertaken by national and professional bodies to introduce mechanisms for establishing consistency in education and training preparation standards. Despite this, there is currently no ‘one size fits all’ approach and there is little accessible, systematic information available that maps across all of the regulated professions, in all four countries of the UK.
At this exciting stage of the project, we are very much starting with a clean slate (with no persuasion as to outcomes) and are purely evidence gathering and in listening mode. That said, we are clear in our focus that any outcome will need to support HCPC’s registrants in maintaining good, safe practice (and of course service user safety as a result). Any measures taken as a result of this research project should enable, and never restrict or serve as a barrier, to effective development of registrants advancing their practice.
Research and engagement – building the evidence base
Following a recruitment process we are delighted to have appointed a great team from the University of Bradford. Their research brief is to undertake extensive research and engagement, to identify facts, opinions and experiences, from a range of stakeholders, across a range of settings, professions and geographies. The team have the advantage of both research and clinical expertise (radiography, paramedic, physiotherapy) which we believe will help them engage with our stakeholders and gather a strong data set on which to base future decisions for advanced practice.
The research team will be running a survey, which will be targeted at HCPC registered professionals undertaking, or aspiring to undertake, advanced practice. They will also be carrying out semi structured interviews with key stakeholders to elicit their perceptions regarding the scope of practice and autonomy of advanced practitioners. The Team also intends to undertake a cross-sectional survey of Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and other relevant education providers. A reference group of each of the registrant professional bodies will be created by the Team to provide profession specific insight and ensure the voice of the smaller professions and those where advanced practice is less established is heard.
Successful initial response rate
We began publicising the project on our website in late May including an invitation for you to tell us if you’d like to get involved in our research and engagement. We are so pleased that to date, this has attracted 550 responses from registrants across professions, settings/areas of practice, levels of practice, and across the four countries of the UK. The response rates align with the registrant populations overall, and with the suspected number of those who would consider themselves to be practising at an advanced or consultant level of practice, within HCPC registered professions in the UK.
We would like to thank those of you who have already sent your details, shortly the research team will be in touch to invite you to participate in the survey.
While 500+ potential participants in the research is a fantastic starting point, we suspect that there are many more of you out there who may be interested in getting involved and will have valuable experiences and insights to share. Anecdotally we believe there may be several thousand registrants working at what might be considered to be, an advanced practice level and we would welcome input from as many people as possible.
Why your views are important
Advanced practice seems to be well established in some professions regulated by HCPC, whereas in other professions it is in relative infancy or not yet in existence. However, the landscape is rapidly evolving and there is a significant projected growth in the number of advance practitioners to respond to service needs in the next few years. Therefore, it will be really important to hear the views of those who may not currently be practising at an advanced practice level, but potentially could in future.
Equally, it is very important to us that the research and engagement covers the experiences and perceptions within and across all four countries of the UK. And, we can see from the details that we have collected so far, that the potential participants are predominantly working in England. Again, we understand that this may be reflective of the prevalence of advanced practice and respective sizes of the overall workforce in each of the four countries, however we would encourage you to get involved if you are working in the devolved nations.
How to get involved
If you wish to put yourself forward to participate in the research project, please follow the instructions on the HCPC webpage here by no later than 16 August 2020. We will keep this webpage updated throughout the course of the project so that you can see how things are progressing.
On receipt of the final report from the Research Team in late Autumn, we will begin analysing potential options (depending on what the evidence from the research suggests) and putting these forward for the HCPC Council to make a decision about whether any additional regulatory measures may be warranted in early Spring 2021.