Building on the The NHS Five Year Forward View for Mental Health (FYFVfMH)’ and ‘Stepping Forward to 2020/2021, The Mental Health Workforce Plan for England’, Health Education England in collaboration with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust offered funding packages to NHS and NHS Commissioned Providers of Mental Health services interested in transforming their workforce through the role of a ‘Trainee Assistant Practitioner'.

‘The Assistant Practitioner’ was a 2 year Higher Apprenticeship, with 1 day on training release at University. Therefore, the funding model looked to draw from the Organisation’s apprenticeship Levy supplemented by a training grant provided by HEE. 

For further details please do not hesitate to contact Kay Helliwell on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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On the 23rd October 2020, the North West Psychological Professions Network (NWPPN) were delighted to co-host with the South West PPN (SWPPN) tduring a workshop to explore the opportunities for applying the role of Assistant Practitioner (Mental Health) in Medical Specialisms.

The NWPPN and SWPPN joined forces to run a stakeholder event to bring together stakeholders and showcase important workforce development work within the regions to deploy the role of Assistant Practitioner (AP) across mental health and medical specialisms.

The workshop aimed to:

  • To examine the case for a specialist psychological support role employed within medical specialisms.
  • To showcase research undertaken to evaluate the impact of a specialist support role within a Head & Neck Specialist Services in the South West of England.
  • To explain the role of the Assistant Practitioner and the outline the competencies that underpin the foundation degree training programme and the Apprenticeship Standard
  • To bring to together clinical, educational and workforce development stakeholders to explore opportunities for future development of the role of Assistant Practitioner (Mental Health) in Medical Specialisms.

Access the agenda and recordings on our PPN Youtube 'New Support Roles for Mental Health Workshop' playlist.


Presentations from the day

Audit of Enhanced Recovery with Integrated Care Assessment in Head and Neck Cancer Surgery 

Mr Andrew S McLennan, BChD MBChB FDSRCPS FRCS(OMFS), Consultant Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon, Royal Devon & Exeter NHSFT


Opportunities for psychological support in kidney medicine

Dr Alexander Hamilton, MBBS BSc (Hons) MRCP (Nephrology) PhD, Specialty Training Registrar in Renal Medicine at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust and Clinical Lecturer in Renal Medicine, Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol


Bridging the Gap in Integrated Care: Developing Psychologically informed practice / Assistant Psychological Practitioner Role to Embed into Medical Specialisms

Professor Paul Farrand, Clinical Education, Development and Research (CEDAR) Psychology, University of Exeter


Putting the pieces in place - what do we need to make it happen?

Rachel Wylie, Education Commissioning Manager, South West Region - Health Education England


Assistant Practitioners (APs) Mental Health Workforce Development Project in the North of England

Kay Helliwell, Project Team Manager, Assistant Practitioners for Mental Health North of England, Health Education England North & Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust


The Assistant Practitioner (Mental Health) Training Programme & the Apprenticeship Levy

Lindsay Robinson, Senior Lecturer & Academic Lead for Apprenticeships, University of CentralLindsay Robinson, Senior Lecturer & Academic Lead for Apprenticeships, University of CentralLancashire


Developing the Psychological Professions Supply Pipeline - Support rolesDeveloping the Psychological Professions Supply Pipeline - Support roles

Laura Smith, Workforce Development Manager, British Psychological Society