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NHS England uses the term ‘credential’ to describe standardised, structured components of assessed learning that relate to a particular area of practice and that are designed to meet high-priority workforce development needs. Individual credentials are focused on developing area-specific capability and capacity, thereby supporting sustainable, high-quality approaches to meeting population needs and delivering patient benefit.

Credentials form a substantial component of learning (e.g. that takes more than a year to complete) in a substantive area of practice (e.g. not in a highly specialised area, or with a focus on a specific intervention) that respond to a high-priority, at-scale, system-level workforce development need (e.g. not a localised or specific service need, or a short-term need in workforce supply). They are focused on safely, effectively and efficiently developing capability in support of independent decision-making and the management of high levels of complexity, risk and uncertainty, while upholding patient safety.

There are broadly three types of potential credentials:

  • Multi-professional credentials for specified professions, including medicine.
  • Multi-professional credentials (for specified professions) that do not include medicine.
  • Medical credentials.

We are progressing our approach to multi-professional advanced practice credentials in parallel with the approach taken to medical and dental credentials. We are committed to ensuring clarity on the links and differences between credentials for different parts of the workforce. Our central focus is on upholding safe and effective patient care, while optimising opportunities for workforce development and deployment within multi-disciplinary teams and new models of care.

We are considering the value of joined-up or co-ordinated approaches to credential development and implementation taking account of the following: 

  • The potential development of complementary (‘companion’) credentials for medicine and other specified professions within the same area of practice (produced either on a sequential or concurrent basis). 
  • The potential development of a shared credential across medicine and other, specified registered professions, if this could form a safe, effective and expedient way to address workforce development needs in a particular area of practice. 
  • The development of a credential in a particular area of practice to address workforce development needs either only in medicine or only for specified other professions (again, in response to identified needs).

The Credential Development Oversight Group addresses medical and multi-professional credential issues in a joined-up way. The group’s primary remit is to consider workforce development priorities across medicine and multi-professional advanced practice, the nature and scope of priority areas, and how best these can be addressed. It also considers whether and how credentials are the most appropriate intervention to meet specific needs, recognising the different requirements, options and solutions within and for medicine and the other professions.

Multi-professional (non-medical) credentials, overseen by Centre for Advancing Practice are also designed to enable service transformation by enabling new ways of working, including in support of new models of care. They develop ‘area-specific’ advanced practice capability, with a particular focus on developing and optimising the multi-professional clinical decision-making skills required to manage high levels of complexity, uncertainty and risk safely, effectively and efficiently.

The Centre’s approach is underpinned by a multi-professional credential approval and assurance process. This includes taking draft credential specifications through independent review and conferring Centre endorsement on specifications that meet its criteria. The area-specific capabilities defined by each Centre-endorsed credential specification align to the generic advanced practice capabilities set out in Health Education England’s 2017 Multi-professional advanced clinical practice framework for England. Multi-professional credentials are designed for delivery and take-up within universities’ advanced practice education provision, with oversight of workplace-based supervision, learning and assessment fully integrated into arrangements.      

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