Finding our way with advancing practice

Hannah Morley considers how we can progress with advanced practice physiotherapy development 

Hannah Morley advanced physiotherapy practitioner in a first contact practitioner Gloucestershire

In 2019 I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust and used it to study the varying paths taken by countries towards advanced practice physiotherapy (APP). I travelled to Australia and New Zealand to study how physiotherapists and system leaders have navigated the advancement of our profession.

This involved interviewing clinicians and leaders about their experiences, challenges and successes. I gathered data by observing clinics, attending training sessions, team meetings accessing documents and  policies. 

Four themes were identified:

  • clinical governance,
  • regulation,
  • education and
  • digital innovation.

Contributors felt that these were the key aspects that ensured the sustainability and efficacy of their services, helped demonstrate quality assurance, maintained patient safety, and improved staff satisfaction. 

There were some differences between the areas I visited. In particular: variations in the types of advanced practice roles, teaching-led versus portfolio-based methods of demonstrating compliance with standards, and regulation of the terms ‘advanced practice’ and ‘specialist’. 

These findings led me to important questions about how we progress with APP development in the UK.  

If you have an advanced practitioner (AP) in your area, ask: why aren’t there more of them? What extra value do they add? If there aren’t any APs, ask: Where could an AP add value? Where could we access training and education to develop an AP in this area? 

The conversation around advanced practice will continue to grow louder and we should continue to question, learn from others and take the path less travelled in forging a new future for our profession.

Hannah’s report from her fellowship travels was published on AHP Day, 14 October #AHPDay. You can read excerpts on her blog 

The new advanced practice pages on the CSP website have been launched and will continue to be updated as the agenda throughout the UK unfolds.

  • Hannah Morley is an advanced physiotherapy practitioner in a first contact practitioner role in Gloucestershire  

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