Development of Advanced Clinical Practice (ACP) Credentials for Healthcare Professions

Introduction and background

Developing and retaining the Advanced Practice workforce is a strategic priority for the NHS. The NHS Long-Term People Plan recognises the potential of advanced level practitioners meeting short term and long-term workforce demands; whilst the NHS Interim People Plan is heavily supportive of scaling up and delivering new roles and models of advanced level practice.

Health Education England (HEE) is leading this agenda by working collaboratively across the health and care system, to develop safe and effective advanced level practitioners which the system can learn to recognise and utilise within new models of care. A clinical career pathway and targeted continuing professional development have the potential to support the retention of highly valued and skilled staff and facilitate workforce transformation.

As part of this programme of work, HEE has commissioned Skills for Health to lead the development of Advanced Practice credentials frameworks, providing a consistent standard for multi professional advanced level practice in six specialties:

  • Primary Care Core Framework
  • Primary Care Dietetics
  • Primary Care Occupational Therapy
  • Community Rehabilitation
  • Cardiovascular Disease and Respiratory Long-Term Condition Management
  • Post Natal Pelvic Health

  • Purpose and scope of the credentials frameworks

    To create transferable, recognisable ongoing Advanced Practice education and training, there is a need to create, for each specialty, a standardised ‘credential’ framework of learning outcomes and assessment methods, to be delivered by education providers working in partnership with service. Often, this will be as part of approved level 7 (Master’s level) learning but this may not be the only model of learning. Each ‘credential’ articulates learning an individual is required to successfully complete in order to be recognised as an Advanced Practitioner in the speciality and beyond.

    Achievement of credentials will be evidenced by a range of methods including qualifications or awards which are aligned to the credentials, evidence of prior learning and/or demonstration of current competency to carry out specific professional related activities. This combined clinical and academic delivery will better meet the needs of service, offering standardised and nationally transferable training routes for the workforce, recognisable to employers, employees and patients.

    A key component of this work is the development by HEE of a Centre for Advancing Practice, which will accredit and oversight Advanced Practice programmes. Successful completion of a HEE accredited Advanced Practice programme will enable recognition as being educated to the national standard of advanced level of practice.

  • Development of the frameworks

    For each of the frameworks, a steering group, chaired by an appropriate multi-professional expert, will guide the development process and provide specialist clinical expertise.  Membership of each steering group will include multi-professional and cross sector stakeholders (e.g. cross sector employers, educators, clinicians, professional bodies and Royal Colleges) to co-produce the phases of the work.  A wider ‘reference group’ will also be created for each framework – open to any individual or organisation, including voluntary organisations, seeking to be informed about the project and/or engage in the consultation process.  Representation from patients, carers and families with relevant lived experience will ensure the patient voice and co-production throughout the process.

    Initial development will include desk research and steering groups involvement to identify 21st Century workforce needs and review existing source documents (e.g. qualifications, frameworks, guidance).  Based on this research the scope of practice for each speciality area and a suggested outline structure for a framework (based on capabilities required for service delivery) will be defined.  Following consultation with the steering group, the detail of each capability will be further developed, to set out the required knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the scope and level of practice.

    To enable development of credentials, assessment methods and grading descriptors will be assigned to each capability.  This will require working closely with education providers and service to ensure the credentials are deliverable within HEI programmes as well as meeting the requirements of HEE’s Centre for Advancing Practice.

    Effective engagement and consultation with stakeholder will underpin the development process, seeking to ensure the frameworks meet the needs of both employers and education providers.  Consultation will include an online survey, with links to each draft framework disseminated through the communication channels of the steering group members and other stakeholders.  To obtain further in-depth feedback, multi-professional ‘expert groups’ will review the draft frameworks and consider any issues arising from the wider consultation.

    Based on all consultation processes, a final draft of each framework will be developed, formatted to be consistent with the HEE ‘house style’ and linked to the emerging supervision, assessment, portfolio and educational requirements.

    Stakeholder engagement and communications will include promotion and launch of the completed frameworks, to support the uptake of the area specific credentials by employer organisations and education institutions.

    The original expectation was for the frameworks to be launched in Spring 2021.  This timescale will be kept under review in light of the Covid 19 crisis in order to ensure clinicians and other stakeholders are given time and opportunity to engage fully in the development process.

Further information


Register to be involved

To register your interest in the Credentials Frameworks development process please complete the form below. Later in 2020, you will then be invited to take part in an online survey to provide feedback on the draft framework/s.