CSP policy briefing statement on advanced practice in physiotherapy

Year published: 2020

The purpose of this statement is to inform members as they engage with, and influence, the advanced practice agenda and develop advanced practice within the profession.

The terms advanced practice and advanced clinical practice differ across the four UK countries. Advanced practice is commonly used in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and advanced clinical practice is used in England. Both terms, often used interchangeably, describe a level of practice rather than a role. For the purpose of this paper the term advanced practice* will be used to denote a level of practice that registered healthcare professionals from a range of professional backgrounds and areas can achieve by fully meeting the four pillars of practice: clinical, leadership, education and research.

The CSP supports the following: 

An expansion in the number of physiotherapists at advanced practice level

  • The numbers of physiotherapists working at advanced practice level, will need to grow significantly in the next 10 years to meet population needs. 
  • Employers need to ensure advanced practice opportunities are open to all professionals that have the right capabilities.

More opportunities for physiotherapists to develop advanced practice level capabilities.

  • A robust postgraduate educational framework is essential to enable multiple and flexible routes through which individuals can develop capabilities and progress through career levels.

A shared definition and consistency of capability frameworks for different areas of advanced practice

  • Consistent and aligned advanced practice capability frameworks across the four UK countries are essential for patient care and safety. This would enable clinicians to move around the system, with a common understanding of capability requirements and the expectations upon them.

Use of the title advanced practice physiotherapist

  • In the CSPs view this supports patient safety and accountability to the public. At the same time, it recognises the level of capability, promotes the value that physiotherapists contribute.

Not moving to separate regulation of non-medical practitioners at advanced practice level

  • Registered physiotherapists practicing at advanced practice level are still registered as physiotherapists with the HCPC.  Dual regulation would impose unacceptably high costs of regulation, erode professional identity, subject advanced level practitioners to two sets of regulatory requirements and it is not necessary for patient safety

*advanced practice will be used which includes advanced clinical practice, advanced clinical practitioners, advanced practice physiotherapy, and advanced physiotherapists.

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