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NHS funding for psychological professions training programmes
Updated statement and guidance on NHS-funding for psychological professions training programmes
Updated on 10/11/2022
2-year Psychological Professions Funding Rule Policy Statement
In August 2021, HEE made an initial announcement about implementing a policy change for future eligibility on NHS funding across specific psychological professions’ training programmes for individuals who wish to undertake more than one NHS-funded training.
The 2-year psychological professions funding rule policy was implemented from the 1 April 2022 and applies to any person starting on one of the NHS-funded psychological professions training programmes (see below). In other words, if entering one training from April 2022, that trainee will normally not be eligible to receive NHS funding for a subsequent psychological professions training until a minimum of 2 years after the award for the first training is recommended by a qualifying examination board or by chair’s action after the qualifying exam board.
This policy should now be implemented across all NHS-funded psychological professions training programmes.
The Policy: 2-year Psychological Professions Funding Rule
The ‘2-year psychological professions funding rule’ is based on the principle that once an individual has commenced an NHS-funded psychological professions training programme, a 2-year period will be required to pass from the expected completion date of that training before the funded individual would be eligible for further NHS funding to train in another psychological profession training (where this leads to a change of occupation).
The 2-year timeframe is taken from the date of the qualifying exam board (or the date individual award is formally recommended by chair’s action post-exam board) of one course to the start date for teaching of the next course to be undertaken.
The rule applies to any individual who starts and subsequently completes, withdraws or fails to complete the qualifying requirements of a training programme.
Pre-existing Increasing Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) training policy
The 2-year funding rule will not impact the ‘Progression from PWP to HIT training’ IAPT training policy as the training rule established in 2018 will continue to apply. See below for further information:
In September 2018, the IAPT Education and Training Expert Reference Group established a 2-year rule for Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWP) seeking to undertake training in High Intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (referred to as HIT in the statement below) training. This was published in the Position Statement on Recruitment of IAPT Trainees (September 2018).
Progression from PWP to HIT training
2.1 Health Education England (HEE) commissioners consider progression from PWP to HIT training an integrated training pathway within which PWPs are eligible to apply for HI training when they have completed a minimum of two years of employment as a PWP after passing all PWP course requirements at internal exam board. HEE will not fund trainees who do not meet this requirement.
The only exception to this two-year rule is if a PWP holds a previous core professional qualification recognised by the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP). All advertising and recruitment materials should reflect the commissioners’ two-year rule.
Affected NHS-Funded Psychological Professions Training Programmes
The list of training programmes included within the policy (where NHS-funded) will be updated periodically. This means additional NHS-funded training programmes may be added to this list. HEE will give prior notice to any additional programmes and inform stakeholders and partners before these training programmes are advertised and recruited to.
The NHS-funded psychological professions training programmes included in this policy are:
- Adult Psychotherapy
- Associate Psychological Practitioner
- Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
- Children's Wellbeing Practitioner
- Clinical Associate in Psychology (apprenticeship)
- Clinical Psychology
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Core counselling training (including the three-year IAPT Psychotherapeutic Counselling Training)
- Counselling Psychology*
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
- Education Mental Health Practitioner
- Family and Systemic Psychotherapy (qualifying level)
- Forensic Psychology
- Health Psychology
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Practitioner
- Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner** (including apprenticeship)
- Youth Intensive Psychological Practitioner
*Counselling Psychology is not currently NHS-funded.
** Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners - The ‘Progression from PWP to HIT training’ rule (2018) will continue to apply to Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners who started training from September 2018.
HEE have produced a set of answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs). We will aim to keep these FAQs updated on this webpage.
NHS funding for psychological professions training programmes FAQs (updated on 10/11/2022).
HEE Guidance: 2-year psychological professions funding rule policy implementation across England
To support consistent and transparent implementation of the 2-year psychological professions funding rule policy across England, HEE published the Guidance document: A guidance document for policy implementation across England.
The guidance outlines HEE’s expectations for the implementation of the ‘2-year funding rule policy’ for NHS-funded psychological professions training programmes.
The guidance is primarily a resource for higher education institute training providers, employers, HEE and Psychological Professions Network (PPN) teams to support the policy implementation.
The guidance provides detailed information and case study examples on:
- the application of the policy, including the ‘no retrospective’ application process for pre-1 April 2022
- equality impact assessment summary
- clear statement on ‘exemptions’ to the policy
- the application of extenuating circumstances process
The information included in this guide is as accurate as possible at the time of publication. The policy guidance will be regularly reviewed with stakeholders on a 6 monthly basis to ensure it reflects changes and it remains relevant and effective.
This document should be read alongside the FAQs.
In August 2021, HEE made an initial announcement about implementing a policy change for future eligibility on NHS funding specific psychological professions’ training programmes for individuals who wish to undertake more than one NHS-funded training. However, in September 2021, HEE revised the policy change announcement change (see previous updates below).
The revisions ensured students applying for Clinical Psychology Doctorates in 2022 were exempt from this change. HEE also announced there would be no ‘retrospective’ application of changes to those who have started or are about to start on one of the affected NHS-funded psychological professions training programmes by 31 March 2022.
HEE will communicate policy and implementation timelines following the completion of a review, equality impact assessment and any further stakeholder engagement required.
Policy changes are necessary to meet the expansion ambitions for the NHS workforce, ensuring the delivery of high-quality services for the public. It is vital that NHS-funded training for specific roles is directed to those who wish to practice that role for a period of time, which will protect the tax-payer’s investment, guarantee that staff in these roles gain experience after qualification, and provide the best possible service for patients.
Following a further review of communications received and extensive engagement activity with those who will be directly affected by the proposed policy change (incl. aspiring clinical psychologists) and professional organisations that represent the members of their psychological profession.
HEE remains committed to implementing the policy change in future around the eligibility for NHS funding across specific psychological professions training programmes, which is necessary to meet the expansion ambitions for the NHS workforce and in ensuring the delivery of required services for people and service users. It is key that funded training leads to a suitable period of practice and that career pathways can be managed effectively so that people with the right skills and knowledge can be recruited to continue to provide excellent high-quality care.
The following is an update on the current position since the agreement to delay the eligibility change for those applying for the 2022 Doctorate in Clinical Psychology on 3 September 2021 (see the statement and affected training programmes below):
HEE is now able to extend this eligibility for NHS funding to all entering any of our psychological professions training listed below up to the end of the current financial year (by 31 March 2022) who receive offers from clinical psychology training programmes in 2023 or 2024. This means that there will now be no ‘retrospective’ application of changes to those who have started or are about to start one of these trainings.
HEE is sorry for any disruption and distress that may have been experienced by candidates in this position. HEE will communicate widely to people applying for psychological professions trainings in the future so that funding arrangements for progression going forward are made clear.
HEE is continuing to invest substantially in addressing issues of equity of access and inclusion to clinical psychology training and will continue to work with partners to address the inequity of access. This includes paid experience schemes for disadvantaged psychology graduates who wish to gain clinical experience with a view to clinical psychology application, investment in the leadership of equality, diversity and inclusion change programmes within clinical psychology training and mentoring schemes for ethnic minority aspiring clinical psychologists provided by every programme.
Overall, the NHS has secured funding for an additional 27,000 posts in mental health to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. As part of that, HEE has a responsibility to ensure that sufficient education and training places are commissioned to fill those posts so that services can meet patient need. This includes an expansion in professions such as psychiatry and psychology but also a range of vital new roles.
In moving forward beyond this financial year, we will therefore be guided by the need of services to grow the psychological professions’ workforce as part of the wider expansion of mental health. Recognising that some trainees may have become reliant upon training in one profession as a means to progress into training for another, we are taking robust action to understand and address equality, diversity, and inclusion challenges through all our programmes of investment and to address wider career progression issues in the psychological professions.
With our partners, we will support the development of sustainable roles in all the psychological professions, recognising the vital contribution that is made by each of them. We remain committed to ensuring that patient care is improved by expanding all parts of the mental health workforce, offering new routes into training so that our population is more reflective of the patients they serve. Our focus overall is to balance the needs of service users, employers, and individual applicants.
We know our partners in the higher education sector and professional bodies are as committed to improving patient care as we are, and we look forward to working with them to deliver our shared, strategic ambitions for mental health services over the coming years.
HEE will be issuing a final position on implementation timescales as soon as possible. During this period, HEE is engaging with stakeholders and partners to establish a plan for appropriate timescales for change, as well as embedding the wider action to address inclusion and career path.
Health Education England (HEE) is working with NHS England and Improvement to expand the psychological professions workforce at an unprecedented rate, by approximately 10,500 posts by 2024. This will enable the NHS to provide expanded mental health services to the public and meet commitments set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
This work will:
increase the number of fully funded and salaried training places linked to psychological and talking therapies services for children and adults, along with mental health support teams for schools
enable an additional 8,000 wellbeing practitioner and psychological therapist posts and 2,500 psychology posts to be created across services for children and adults
support clearer career pathways for psychological professionals
support the delivery of a sustainable and expanded mental health workforce
HEE is also investing in paid experience schemes for disadvantaged psychology graduates who wish to gain paid experience with a view to clinical psychology application. HEE has recently ensured action on equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in clinical psychology training through investment in the leadership of EDI change programmes within clinical psychology training and mentoring schemes for ethnic minority aspiring clinical psychologists.
On 1 September 2021, a statement from HEE was published on the Clearing House website about the eligibility change in NHS funding for psychological professions training (see full statement in background below).
Change is necessary to meet the expected growth of the workforce and the demands for mental health services. Our focus is to ensure that training leads to a suitable period of qualified practice, before moving onto other publicly funded training, so career pathways are managed more effectively. This will create additional consolidation of skills, stability in the workforce and ultimately support the delivery of essential mental health services and high-quality patient care.
On September 2, after further discussions with the Group of Trainers in Clinical Psychology, HEE has agreed to delay this policy change to allow for further discussion on the implementation timeframe. This means that for students applying now the planned additional requirements for entry in 2022 will not be implemented.
HEE will now work with education and system partners to establish appropriate timescales for the change to funding policy. HEE will ensure policy changes are clear and widely communicated once timescales for implementation are established.
The new implementation timescales will balance the needs and expectations of applicants, our commitment to creating a more diverse clinical psychology workforce, and the need for the best possible return on public investment in the NHS.
Health Education England has undertaken to fund trainees in psychological professions commissioned professional training based on them having completed two years of qualified practice after completing any previous NHS funded psychological professions training. Therefore applicants who have started another NHS funded psychological professions training in any of the following but who have not completed two years of qualified practice (two years from the date of the qualifying exam board) will no longer be eligible for HEE funding of their training place and salary from the 2022 intake. The affected programmes, where NHS funded, include the following. This list may be updated periodically:
Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy
Children's Wellbeing Practitioner
Clinical Associate in Psychology
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Core counselling training
Education Mental Health Practitioner
Family and Systemic Psychotherapy (qualifying level)
Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner