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Carole Boulanger, an Advanced Critical Care Practitioner (ACCP), discusses the role and how regulation is as equally important to ACCPs as it is to Physician Associates, and therefore the best way forward for the profession.

The Advanced Critical Care Practitioner (ACCP) has become a workforce solution for critical care units and is fully supported by the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine (FICM) and the Intensive Care Society (ICS). The role developed from clinical need and provides a career option for nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) wishing to choose clinical progression, rather than management or education; thereby keeping experience at the bedside.

The role has a clearly defined set of knowledge, skills and competencies, closely aligned to those of intensive care medicine, ensuring a clear quality standard that protects patients and their families. The FICM ACCP curriculum reflects this with patients as the end point.  Consequently ACCPs enjoy acceptance by the critical care community.  The community’s involvement in their development supports their evolving role and their presence supports the training of junior medical staff.

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The role has a clearly defined set of knowledge, skills and competencies, closely aligned to those of intensive care medicine

FICM Associate status for ACCPs provides a clear standard in recognition of appropriate knowledge, skills and competencies commensurate with the quality required. However, the title ACCP cannot be protected posing a risk both to the role and potentially to patients.  Current legislation, or lack of it, means anyone can call themselves anything, creating confusion for patients, relatives and healthcare professionals.  There is a risk of FICM Associated ACCPs being compared to those who may use the title without meeting the standard we have worked hard to set and achieve.

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There is a risk of FICM Associated ACCPs being compared to those who may use the title without meeting the standard we have worked hard to set and achieve.

The FICM ACCP group has worked with Health Education England (HEE), at their request, looking towards regulation for all Medically Associated Professionals (MAPs). In addition to ACCPs these include Physician Associates, Surgical Care Practitioners and Physician Associates (Anaesthesia) .  The political driver was always focused on Physician Associates as a group without a any statutory regulatory body. However, regulation for the other three groups is the appropriate next step to assure the roles; something the critical care community agrees with.  Currently we are working at the limits of this ‘license’ provided by our professional organisations and we acknowledge the risk this may pose. The National Association of ACCPs and the FICM ACCP Working party both agree appropriate regulation to accurately reflect current clinical practice is key for patient and practitioner safety alike.

We are delighted that the consultation proposes regulation for Physician’s Associates; but ask for parity.  Our role has developed from the necessity of critical care units to work differently to meet patient need.  The same concerns around safety apply equally to the other three groups. Effective regulation of all of the groups would ensure  there is no disconnect between the policy makers and those caring for the most vulnerable of patients. HEE hold an  advisory position in this  debate however they state there is : “a compelling case to regulate the titles of each profession under statute. HEE’s professional view is  that all four MAPs must progress to statutory regulation“.

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The Department of Health have opened a consultation on their decision…I would strongly encourage you to respond to it

The Department of Health have opened a consultation on their decision. I would strongly encourage you to respond to it, so the Department of Health can see and listen to concerns of those in critical care who believe that regulation reflects good practice.

If you are a trained ACCP, an ACCP in training, an educational supervisor, patient, relative or critical care unit seeking ACCPs as a part of your critical care workforce, make sure your voice is heard.  You have until 22nd December to submit a response and help to ensure parity for all MAPS. Transparency and regulation, which accurately reflects clinical practice, is a priority for patient safety and ACCPs alike – please join the debate to support this aim.

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You can respond to the consultation here: https://consultations.dh.gov.uk/workforce/regulation-of-medical-associate-professions/

 

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