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AMHP approval criteria

Our expectations of education providers delivering approved mental health professional (AMHP) programmes and of professionals who complete this training

About AMHP practice

AMHPs exercise functions under the Mental Health Act 1983. Those functions relate to decisions made about individuals with mental disorders, including the decision to apply for compulsory
admission to hospital.

Social workers, mental health and learning disabilities nurses, occupational therapists and practitioner psychologists, registered with their respective regulator, may train to become AMHPs.

Successful completion of an approved programme only makes an individual eligible to be approved to act as an AMHP. Only those who have completed approved training and have been approved to act as an AMHP by a Local Social Services Authority in England may perform the functions of an AMHP.

We will approve and monitor AMHP education and training programmes against the criteria set out in this document. Our Education Department is responsible for conducting approval visits to AMHP education providers to ensure their programmes have the processes and procedures outlined in Section 1 in place, and are delivering the knowledge, understanding and skills outlined in Section 2. If a programme meets the criteria we grant open-ended approval, subject to ongoing monitoring.

We have set threshold criteria which ensure the outcomes of education and training and do not dictate how education providers should meet the criteria. This is because there is normally more than one way in which the criteria can be met and the way in which they are met may change over time because of improvements in technology or changes to practice. However, we have produced a mapping document which maps the criteria in this document to our existing standards of education and training guidance. This provides more information as to how the criteria could be implemented in practice and is available on our website.

We also produce supplementary information documents for education providers when preparing for an approval visit, completing annual monitoring submissions, or making significant changes to programmes. These documents give more information about the processes we use to assess and monitor programmes and are also available on our website.

These criteria do not replace other standards that either we or the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) set and AMHPs will need to draw on these other standards to support their wider practice. We expect HCPC registrants to keep to our standards of proficiency, standards of conduct, performance and ethics and standards for continuing professional development, all of which are available on our website. Nurses will be expected to keep to the standards that the NMC set, which are available on their website.

Given that the AMHP role applies to a number of professions who practice in different environments, we do not stipulate how individuals completing AMHP programmes must be able to demonstrate the competencies set out in Section 2 of the criteria after training.

As autonomous professionals, individuals completing approved AMHP programmes will need to make informed and reasoned decisions about their practice to ensure that they meet the criteria
that apply to them. This includes seeking advice and support from education providers, employers, colleagues, professional bodies, unions and others to ensure that the wellbeing of service users is safeguarded at all times. If a professional ensures this, it is unlikely that they will not meet our criteria.

Section 1: Education providers

  • This section sets out criteria around how an education provider must design and deliver an AMHP programme.

  • A.1 The admissions procedures must give both the applicant and the
    education provider the information they require to make an
    informed choice about whether to take up or make an offer of a
    place on a programme.
    A.2 The admissions procedures must apply selection and entry
    criteria, including appropriate academic and professional entry
    A.3 The admissions procedures must apply selection and entry
    criteria, including accreditation of prior (experiential) learning and
    other inclusion mechanisms.
    A.4 The admissions procedures must ensure that the education
    provider has equality and diversity policies in relation to
    applicants and students1, together with an indication of how
    these will be implemented and monitored.

  • B.1 The programme must have a secure place in the education
    provider’s business plan.
    B.2 The programme must be effectively managed.
    B.3 The programme must have regular monitoring and evaluation
    systems in place.
    B.4 There must be a named person who has overall professional
    responsibility for the programme who must be appropriately
    qualified and experienced and, unless other arrangements are
    agreed, be on the relevant part of an appropriate professional
    B.5 There must be an adequate number of appropriately qualified,
    experienced and, where required, registered staff in place to
    deliver an effective programme.

    B.6 Subject areas must be taught by staff with relevant specialist
    expertise and knowledge.
    B.7 A programme for staff development must be in place to ensure
    continuing professional and research development.
    B.8 The resources to support student learning in all settings must be
    effectively used.
    B.9 The resources to support student learning in all settings must
    effectively support the required learning and teaching activities of
    the programme.
    B.10 The learning resources, including IT facilities, must be appropriate
    to the curriculum and must be readily available to students and
    B.11 There must be adequate and accessible facilities to support the
    welfare and wellbeing of students in all settings.
    B.12 There must be a system of academic and pastoral student
    support in place.
    B.13 There must be a student complaints process in place.
    B.14 Throughout the course of the programme, the education provider
    must have identified where attendance is mandatory and must
    have associated monitoring mechanisms in place.
    B.15 Service users and carers must be involved in the programme.

  • C.1 The learning outcomes must ensure that those who successfully
    complete the programme meet the criteria in section 2.
    C.2 The programme must reflect the philosophy, core values, skills
    and knowledge base as articulated in any relevant curriculum
    C.3 Integration of theory and practice must be central to the
    C.4 The curriculum must remain relevant to current practice.

    C.5 The curriculum must make sure that students understand the
    implications of the HCPC’s standards of conduct, performance
    and ethics and / or the NMC’s code: standards of conduct,
    performance and ethics for nurses and midwives on their
    practice as an AMHP.
    C.6 The delivery of the programme must support and develop
    autonomous and reflective thinking.
    C.7 The delivery of the programme must encourage evidence-based
    C.8 The range of learning and teaching approaches used must be
    appropriate to the effective delivery of the curriculum.

  • D.1 Practice placements must be integral to the programme.
    D.2 The number, duration and range of practice placements must be
    appropriate to support the delivery of the programme and the
    achievement of the learning outcomes.
    D.3 The practice placement settings must provide a safe and
    supportive environment.
    D.4 The education provider must maintain a thorough and effective
    system for approving and monitoring all placements.
    D.5 The placement providers must have equality and diversity policies
    in relation to students, together with an indication of how these
    will be implemented and monitored.
    D.6 There must be an adequate number of appropriately qualified,
    experienced and, where required, registered staff at the practice
    placement setting.
    D.7 Practice placement educators must have relevant knowledge,
    skills and experience.
    D.8 Practice placement educators must undertake appropriate
    practice placement educator training.
    D.9 Practice placement educators must be appropriately registered,
    unless other arrangements are agreed.

    D.10 There must be regular and effective collaboration between the
    education provider and the practice placement provider.
    D.11 Students, practice placement providers and practice placement
    educators must be fully prepared for placement which will include
    information about an understanding of:
    – the learning outcomes to be achieved;
    – the timings and the duration of any placement experience and
    associated records to be maintained;
    – expectations of professional conduct;
    – the assessment procedures including the implications of, and
    any action to be taken in the case of, failure to progress; and
    – communication and lines of responsibility.
    D.12 Learning, teaching and supervision must encourage safe and
    effective practice, independent learning and professional conduct.
    D.13 A range of learning and teaching methods that respect the rights
    and needs of service users and colleagues must be in place
    throughout practice placements.

  • E.1 The assessment strategy and design must ensure that the
    student who successfully completes the programme has met
    the competencies set out in section 2 of the criteria.
    E.2 All assessments must provide a rigorous and effective process by
    which compliance with external-reference frameworks can be
    E.3 Professional aspects of practice must be integral to the
    assessment procedures in both the education setting and
    practice placement setting.

    E.4 Assessment methods must be employed that measure the
    learning outcomes.
    E.5 The measurement of student performance must be objective and
    ensure safe and effective practice as an AMHP.
    E.6 There must be effective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms in
    place to ensure appropriate standards in the assessment.
    E.7 Assessment regulations must clearly specify requirements for
    student progression and achievement within the programme.
    E.8 Assessment regulations must clearly specify that any
    requirements for an aegrotat award which may be made will not
    lead to eligibility to be approved as an AMHP.
    E.9 Assessment regulations must clearly specify requirements for a
    procedure for the right of appeal for students.
    E.10 Assessment regulations must clearly specify requirements for
    the appointment of at least one external examiner who must
    be appropriately experienced and qualified and, unless other
    arrangements are agreed, be from the relevant part of an
    appropriate professional register.

Section 2: Approved mental health professionals

  • Education providers must make sure that professionals who complete their AMHP training can meet the criteria set out in this section. We have based these criteria on Schedule 2 to the Mental Health (Approved Mental Health Professionals) (Approval) (England) Regulations 2008.

  • 1.1 Understand legislation, related codes of practice and national
    and local policy and guidance applicable to the role of an AMHP,
    and be able to apply this in practice.
    1.2 Understand the legal position and accountability of AMHPs,
    employers and the authority the AMHP is acting for in relation to
    the Mental Health Act 1983.
    1.3 Understand a range of models of mental disorder, and be able to
    apply them in practice.
    1.4 Understand the contribution and impact of social, physical and
    development factors on mental health, and be able to apply this
    in practice.
    1.5 Understand the social perspective on mental disorders and
    mental health needs in working with service users, their relatives,
    carers and other professionals, and be able to apply this in
    1.6 Understand the implications of mental disorders for service users,
    their relatives, carers and other professionals, and be able to
    apply this in practice.
    1.7 Understand the implications of a range of treatments and
    interventions for service users, their relatives and carers, and be
    able to apply this in practice.
    1.8 Understand child and adult protection procedures in relation to
    AMHP practice.
    1.9 Understand the needs of children and young people and their
    families and the impact those needs have on AMHP practice.

  • 2.1 Be able to exercise appropriate use of independence, authority
    and autonomy in the AMHP role.
    2.2 Be able to recognise, assess and manage effectively the risks
    related to the AMHP role.
    2.3 Be able to manage anxiety, risk and conflict and understand its
    impact on AMHP practice.

  • 3.1 Be able to evaluate critically local and national policy to inform
    AMHP practice.
    3.2 Be able to draw on, and evaluate critically, a range of research
    relevant to evidence-based AMHP practice.
    3.3 Be able to gather, analyse and share information appropriately.

  • 4.1 Be able to demonstrate sensitivity to factors such as race,
    gender, age, sexuality, disability, culture, religion and belief in
    AMHP practice.
    4.2 Be able to identify, challenge and redress discrimination and
    inequality in AMHP practice.
    4.3 Understand and respect service users’ qualities, abilities and
    diverse backgrounds.
    4.4 Be able to promote the rights, dignity and self-determination of
    service users consistent with their own needs and wishes to
    enable them to contribute to the decisions made affecting their
    quality of life and liberty.
    4.5 Be able to demonstrate sensitivity to a service user’s needs for
    personal respect, confidentiality, choice, dignity and privacy.

  • 5.1 Be able to communicate effectively with service users, relatives
    and carers when undertaking the AMHP role.
    5.2 Be able to communicate advice, instruction, information and
    professional opinion, including providing verbal and written
    5.3 Be able to present a case at a legal hearing.
    5.4 Be able to balance and manage the competing requirements of
    confidentiality and effective information sharing to the benefit of
    the service user and other persons concerned with the service
    user’s care

  • 6.1 Be able to work with service users, carers and others to evaluate
    the outcomes of interventions and identify any unmet needs.
    6.2 Be able to build and sustain effective professional relationships
    with service users, relatives and carers when undertaking the
    AMHP role.
    6.3 Be able to work as an AMHP in partnership with others, including
    inter-agency and inter-professional working.
    6.4 Understand the roles and responsibilities of other professionals
    involved in statutory mental health work.
    6.5 Be able to use networks and community groups to influence
    collaborative working with service users, agencies and advocates.

  • 7.1 Be able to make appropriate decisions that are sensitive to the
    needs of the service user.
    7.2 Be able to assess the feasibility of, and contribute effectively to,
    planning and implementing options for care of the service user.
    7.3 Be able to plan, negotiate and manage compulsory admission to
    hospital or arrangements for supervised community treatment.

    7.4 Be able to manage and co-ordinate effectively the relevant legal
    and practical processes, including the involvement of other
    professionals, as well as service users, relatives and carers.
    7.5 Be able to complete statutory documentation, including an
    application for admission, and written records in accordance with
    applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines.

We recognise that the use of terminology can be a sensitive issue, particularly around issues about mental health. We have decided that it is appropriate for us to use the language of mental health legislation and refer to ‘mental disorder’ in the criteria. The criteria use phrases such as ‘understand’ and ‘be able to apply’. This is so that they are applicable to those completing AMHP programmes that have not yet started practising as an AMHP.

Questions about the standards

If you are unsure how to interpret these standards, then you should write to, or email the Education department at the following address:

Education Department
Health and Care Professions Council
184 - 186 Kennington Park Road
London SE11 4BU

Page updated on: 14/06/2018