Associate Psychological Practitioners (APPs) in Primary Care: Modelling the Impact

Lord, Fiona, Budd, Miranda, Gardner, Kathryn Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-3904-1638, Bhutani, Gita and Nixon, Debbie (2024) Associate Psychological Practitioners (APPs) in Primary Care: Modelling the Impact. Primary Health Care Research & Development . ISSN 1463-4236

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Background: The ‘Associate Psychological Practitioner’ (APP) is an innovative new role that expands the psychological workforce and addresses the rising demand for mental health services in England, yet the impact of this role on NHS workforce capacity has yet to be modelled.
Aim: We modelled the impact of the APP role in Primary Care in terms of additional capacity to provide mental health care and the impact on General Practitioner (GP) capacity within the sector.
Method: Workforce experts of the NHS Workforce Repository and Planning Tool (WRaPT) team used a modelling tool to determine future state scenarios of APPs working across all Primary Care Networks (PCNs) within a region, and the associated change on the baseline workforce. Modelling was based on Lancashire and South Cumbria, a large geographical area in North-West England that includes 41 PCNs. Assumptions used in the modelling included identifying the patient population and workforce in scope, documenting the activity undertaken by APPs, and considering the future state scenarios for modelling.
Findings: With regards to generating additional capacity, having 1 APP in each of the 41 PCNs in Lancashire and South Cumbria could provide 53,000 brief intervention appointments of 45 minutes each, thereby diverting these appointments away from the GP; and up to 48 people could benefit from attending Group and Wellbeing sessions over a year with 1 APP working with another Primary Care colleague, that is, 384 group intervention sessions delivered. In relation to GP capacity, 1 APP (if placed across a PCN, or within multiple practices) could free up at least 1,665 General Practitioner appointments within one year, which could lead to potential cost savings. These findings can be used to underpin decision making in respect of training future cohorts of APPs and contribute to wider workforce planning in primary care.

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