West Yorkshire and Harrogate HCP publishes strategy on psychological professions workforce

West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership has released a strategy about the psychological professions.

The publication – Psychological Professions Workforce Strategy – aims to act as an “ambitious step towards proposing a system wide approach” to understanding the workforce in this area, which “spans mental health, community, acute, primary care, social care, independent and the third sector services.”

The 12-page report explains the Health and Care Partnership (HCP)’s plans, collective vision, case studies and how it all fits into national and local contexts.

Its 10 priorities are listed as including:

  • Providing a comprehensive needs and gap analysis on the psychological professions workforce;
  • Determining how psychological professions can influence/shape the development of frameworks and services; 
  • Ensuring all provision is subject to evidence-based rigorous psychological scrutiny to optimise outcomes; 
  • Increasing the diversity within the workforce and ensuring better representation of communities;
  • Increasing cultural competence and cultural humility in the workforce and ensuring it thinks about the cultural needs of all individuals; 
  • Supporting the development of antiracist practice within the training and practice of psychological professionals;
  • Engaging and working with the Psychological Professions Network and others to raise the profile of, and promote career pathways for, all psychological professions;
  • Exploring emerging new roles and how they could fit into existing and developing structures;
  • Exploring how to increase the number of placements offered to training psychological professionals across the region;
  • For the Steering Group to have an awareness of the pressures and risks in regard to psychological resources within the system to support workforce planning and recruitment activity;
  • Embedding psychological professions activity across all areas of mental and physical healthcare.

Citing the significant social, health and political changes that have occurred over the past few years – such as the COVID-19 pandemic and recognition of inequalities exacerbated by that, the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matters Movement, and the impact of Brexit – the executive summary states that “if ever there was a time where the competencies and skills of psychological practitioners were needed, it is now.”

However, it adds, “to contribute in a meaningful way to the ‘reset and recovery’ agenda and to ‘building back fairer’ we need to have a comprehensive understanding of our workforce to support effective workforce planning.”

The strategy proposes that the “first phase of the work will focus on the NHS workforce prioritising a comprehensive gap analysis”, as well as “career development and expansion plans”, and “enhancing and embedding psychological leadership in the commissioning, development and operation of services.”

It adds that an “additional strand of the project” is to “work with colleagues in the Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise Sector” to “understand their workforce challenges in the provision of NHS services and ways of working together to maximise the impact of our provision to meet the increasing demand.”

The publication also says that it is “committed to developing a workforce which reflects the communities” that it serves, with representation and inclusion described as “key”, as well as ensuring that the services it provides meet the diverse needs of local communities.

Intended to be a “live” and “evolving endeavour”, which is “further informed and shaped by engagement with wider stakeholders”, the strategy aims to “embed psychological knowledge and practice across the whole health and care system.”

For West Yorkshire and Harrogate, the document adds that it is “difficult to precisely determine the number” of psychological professionals working in the NHS across West Yorkshire – due to issues around coding, data collection methodology and accuracy.

From data that was available, the publication states that “across WY&H in 2019/20 there was a gap of 25wte (6.1 per cent vacancy rate) posts; by 2021 we estimated that it would be around 46.7 wte (10.9 per cent vacancy rate).” However, at the time of writing the figure was yet to be confirmed and did not consider demands related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To read the strategy in full, click here.