Multi-professional credentials are key to developing a responsive, flexible advanced practice workforce, able to meet changing population, patient and service delivery needs.

A key workstream for Health Education England’s Centre for Advancing Practice is developing multi-professional credentials to address high-priority workforce development needs.

The Centre is using the term ‘credential’ to describe standardised, structured units of assessed learning that are designed to meet workforce development needs in areas that are high-priority and exist at scale. Credentials should increase advanced practice capability and capacity and thereby support sustainable, high-quality approaches to meeting population needs and delivering patient benefit.

How will Centre-endorsed credentials be developed and delivered?

The Centre will commission the development of credentials where there is a distinct, high-priority workforce development need to deliver the NHS Long-term Plan.

The Centre has developed a credential approval and assurance process. Through this, it will support credentials’ development – from initiation in line with priorities through to evaluating the impact of their delivery – and assure credentials’ quality and currency. 

HEE will define priorities for advanced practice credential development on a regular basis, with a process implemented for organisations and expert groups to be commissioned and supported to develop full credential specifications in high-priority areas.

Credential specifications will be considered for Centre endorsement. Education providers will then be encouraged to use endorsed credential specifications to support their curriculum design and module/programme delivery. They will be able to submit delivery plans for Centre approval, with credentials’ delivery subject to quality review.   

Endorsed credential specifications will also be subject to periodic review to ensure they remain up-to-date. This includes in terms of their responsive to changing needs, developments in the evidence base, technological advances and new models of care.

Credentials’ individual and collective impact on workforce development and deployment will form the focus of on-going evaluation. 

Credential endorsement pilot

The Centre is conducting a pilot exercise to test its approach to credential endorsement. The first phase of the exercise is running in May/June 2021.

The purpose of the exercise is twofold:

  • To enable advanced practice resources that HEE has previously commissioned and supported to completion to secure endorsement through the new Centre arrangements.
  • To inform how the Centre refines its approval and assurance process prior to formal launch.   

Five completed advanced practice resources are being taken through the first phase of the pilot. These are in the following areas: 

A second phase of pilot activity will run from July. This will enable HEE-commissioned resources that are currently in development to be taken through the endorsement process. Again, this exercise will inform how the Centre’s approach is refined.  

The Centre plans to launch the credential approval and assurance process later in 2021. The process to commission new credential specifications is due to be enacted from early 2022.