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Update to the latest news on HEE funding changes

08 September 2021

Since we published the below statement, HEE has updated its position and confirmed that it will extend the eligibility for NHS psychology professions funding, in addition to the planned policy change delay to allow for further discussion on the implementation timeframe.

On 1 September, Health Education England (HEE), had announced that from 2022, certain funded roles within the psychological professions would no longer be eligible to access funded Doctorate in Clinical Psychology training until two years post qualification.

Following feedback from BPS members, trainees and accredited course providers, HEE has now issued a new update which you can read on its website, which the BPS welcomes.

Our original response to HEE can be seen below:

"Whilst the BPS welcomes the decision to delay the implementation of changes to the HEE criteria for funding eligibility, we remain concerned that this change, when implemented, will affect those from marginalised or disadvantaged backgrounds. To access funded Clinical Psychology training applicants must demonstrate relevant clinical experience, with much of this often gained through low or unpaid voluntary work. Where applicants are unable to volunteer to gain experience, they may often enter NHS positions outlined in the HEE statement. Barring those who are in the listed roles from progressing into Clinical Psychology training until two years post qualification could create an uneven playing field for those who can afford to take on voluntary roles for experience versus those who have taken on funded positions, potentially for financial or other reasons.

We are aware that there is discussion on social media that many of the roles affected by the changes are perceived by some as formal ‘stepping stones’ to Clinical Psychology training and unimportant in their own right. Following conversations with HEE representatives it is clear that this is not their view and has never been the intent and that the action taken recently was in fact to ensure that all psychological professions are viewed as worthwhile career destinations in their own right. This is particularly important at a time when there is a recognised need to significantly increase the psychological workforce to meet rising need.

The BPS with its Division of Clinical Psychology has met with a representative of HEE to share the concerns outlined and to also determine a way forward with continued constructive dialogue on this matter. In meeting with HEE it is clear that the policy is being implemented to support effective National Health Service spending and an ambitious workforce growth plan.

We recognise the need to protect maximum return on investment for these professions but shared concerns that the policy must not disadvantage capable and committed individuals from accessing their chosen career pathway. HEE has committed to ensuring that any changes proposed are fair to potential Clinical Psychology trainees whilst also acknowledging the huge contribution made by those who already view the identified roles as career destinations in their own right.  We have been assured that the timing of the changes will be fair to those who are already registered and due to register and that the phased approach will take several years for the cycle to conclude.

As part of the proposed implementation we have been assured that a commitment to supporting equality and diversity will remain a focus, alongside the successful initiatives already welcomed by the BPS including mentoring, leadership support and paid opportunities to gain experience.

It is vital that those responsible for workforce planning continue to consider alternative and complimentary ways to solve what have been long standing problems with recruitment and retention in the NHS and psychological professions and we commit to working collaboratively with them on such matters.

As a point of clarification, we believe that Counselling Psychology has been incorrectly included within the list of affected psychological professions. Counselling psychology is a vocational and scientific discipline within psychology and is a Doctoral level qualification which is usually self-funded. This marks it out as significantly different from the other courses in HEE's statement. Counselling Psychology is not usually a profession that is visited en-route to another profession, rather a destination career in and of itself.

We would urge HEE to make sure that this messaging does not confuse our in-training members nor the general public."

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