Supporting the development of a Clinical Exercise Physiologist - FAQs

This collection of FAQs covers some of the key issues connected to the decision to develop a newly defined role for Clinical Exercise Physiologists (CEPs). They will be updated as new issues or questions emerge.

CSP Council has decided to support a move to develop a newly defined role for Clinical Exercise Physiologists (CEPs), allowing them to be accredited and to join a new voluntary register. You can read the background to the decision in a blog post by Alex MacKenzie, CSP Chair of Council

What is the Clinical Exercise Workforce Collaborative?

The Clinical Exercise Workforce Collaborative (CEWC) is a group of multiple stakeholders. They aim to work collaboratively on identifying and defining the skills, knowledge and competencies for fitness professionals to work alongside healthcare professionals.

This is in order to support patient care and provide a collective voice to advocate how clinical exercise is delivered, accessed and evaluated.

Among others, the current stakeholders include: 

  • British Association for Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation (BACPR)
  • British Association for Sport and Exercise Science (BASES)
  • British Association of Sport Rehabilitators (BASRaT) 
  • Later Life Training
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Royal College of Anaesthetists
  • British Heart Foundation
  • Faculty of Sports and Exercise Medicine UK (Moving Medicine initiative)

A number of these stakeholders are also partners with the CSP in the Community Rehabilitation Alliance.


What work will an accredited CEP do?  

The exact scope of practice of a UK accredited and registered CEP is not yet defined. This is why Council is keen for the CSP to be involved in this development, so we can be both supportive and influential as this work moves forwards.

The CSP will seek to ensure the role complements contemporary UK physiotherapy practice and contributes safely and effectively to high-quality patient care.


Why not just train more physios to meet the demand for clinical exercise interventions, given that exercise is a pillar of physiotherapy practice?

Council upholds and recognises exercise as a cornerstone of physiotherapy practice in the UK.

The provision of high quality clinical exercise is playing an increasing role in public health and rehabilitation interventions and there is a growing need for patients and populations to access it.

Council believes the physiotherapy workforce is central to delivering exercise interventions but demand for clinical exercise, both now and in the future, cannot be met by expanding the physiotherapy workforce alone.

Council recognises one way forward to address this issue is to support the profession to work more collaboratively with an exercise workforce whose safe and effective practice can be assured. 


Does this move mean that pre-registration physiotherapy education will change?

Not necessarily. A pre-registration education review was already planned for 2021. This will include understanding how the pre-registration curriculum can best prepare physiotherapists to deliver exercise interventions.

Later this year the CSP also plans to engage with the profession and other stakeholders to fully understand the scope of contemporary physiotherapy practice in clinical exercise provision. This work will inform the education review.


Will CEPs be doing the jobs that B5 physio currently do?

The exact scope of practice of a UK accredited and registered CEP is not yet defined. However, it will not be the same as a band 5 physiotherapist.

Physiotherapists have a specific set of standards of proficiency (SOPs) they have to meet upon registration with the HCPC. These are broad and go way beyond just providing exercise interventions.

Band 5 physiotherapy roles are a key part of the career development of a physiotherapist and will not be wholly replicated by CEPs.

This is why Council is keen for the CSP to be involved in this development, so we can influence this work as it moves forwards. The CSP will seek to ensure the role complements contemporary UK physiotherapy practice and contributes safely and effectively to high quality patient care. 


Our support workers provide exercise interventions and run our exercise classes, will the CEP development take away that role?

Support workers play a crucial role in the physiotherapy workforce and delivery of care. Many support workers already have exercise qualifications of varying levels and deliver exercise as part of a wider role.

The exact scope of practice and level of qualifications of a UK accredited and registered CEP is not yet defined. This is why Council is keen for the CSP to be involved in this development, so we can be both supportive and influential as this work moves forwards.

We aim to ensure the CEP role is clear and complements the existing workforce in a positive way and contributes safely and effectively to high quality patient care.

Council have asked the CSP to do additional work to define and standardise the scope of practice, levels of knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to deliver clinical exercise interventions across the physiotherapy workforce. This should enable greater numbers of support workers to maximise their exercise provision capabilities in a safe and supportive environment, while also providing a framework for continuing professional development.


What level of academic study, will a CEP require to become accredited?

This has not yet been agreed. Currently many exercise physiology degrees are at level 6 or SQF level 10 (BSc) with some graduates going on to study clinical exercise physiology at masters level (Level 7 or SQF level 11).

In contrast, other exercise qualifications are much shorter and less comprehensive. These may allow individuals with insufficient training to claim to be suitably qualified exercise professionals. Defining a specific title, role and level of qualification for a CEP would ensure better standardisation, patient safety and adequate governance.

The exact academic qualification and knowledge, skill and behaviours needed of CEPs to deliver exercise interventions has not yet been mapped or developed. The work of this group work will aim to influence and develop workforce development and training plans.

 


Could I undertake a level 7 CEP programme and complement my physiotherapy knowledge and skills?

There is no reason why not. This has not yet been fully mapped out with the new CEP role, however, any physiotherapist wishing to study CEP is able to do so as long as they meet the university’s admission criteria. Many already choose to undertake postgraduate study in exercise prescription and physiology to complement their physiotherapy practice.

Entry requirements for a accredited CEP programme are yet to be clarified. The CSP aims to be influential in this area.


What work is the CSP planning to do and how can I be involved?

Council has asked the CSP to undertake work to define and describe the scope of practice of the physiotherapy workforce in clinical exercise interventions and the knowledge, skills and behaviours required at each level of the workforce. This is in response to feedback from members during the development on this issue, who said that this would be helpful.

The CSP is currently scoping this work and will share with members later this year how they can be involved to shape this agenda. 


 

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