- Devon County Council Policy, if any for selection of Trainee Approved Mental Health Professional’s (AMHPs) to be recommended for placement on the AMHP training course.
There is no single Devon County Council policy that covers completely what is being requested here. Rather, the Trainee Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) pathway is a set of steps within a process established around 2014, each having potential ‘exit’ points for those undertaking the role.
The process also includes a number of discretionary measures held by an external provider (Bournemouth University – “BU”) who provide the academic course. BU has its own processes around how an individual might progress through the course, defer, or be removed from the process. This includes, at the BU course application stage, whether the local authority is able to confirm that they support the Trainee AMHP’s application to the course and view the candidate as ready and suitable for both the course and, eventually, the role of the AMHP.
a. Advert for Trainee AMHPs ( excerpt taken from the most recent advert)
This sets out clearly the requirements of the Trainee AMHP role and the reserved right to delay or redeploy candidates who either require further development or considered unable to successfully complete the process.
“We would be aiming for successful candidates to join Bournemouth University’s April 2021 AMHP Training course which will be based in Exeter, with placements around the county. The course is approximately six months long and full time. It is essential that candidates can commit to the whole timetable. The Daytime AMHP Service will reserve the right to delay access to the course if further development of the candidate is felt to be required. Redeployment in line with Devon County Council’s policies will also be considered should the candidate be unable to successfully undertake or complete the process. Those who are currently employed on a Devon Partnership NHS Trust contract could also be redeployed through that agency’s processes. Candidates need to be aware that as the course is run by an external provider, course dates are subject to change – in which case negotiations will take place with candidates as to temporary redeployment to another suitable team.”
b. Candidates apply for Trainee AMHP posts as they would with any other post, i.e. full application and recruitment process.
Candidates are reminded at interview of the points in a) above and that, if they are appointed but found to require further development or are not considered suitable at any point through the process, the service will do everything to support the individual in meeting the pre-course requirements. The service, however, always reserve the right to either halt the process or delay an individual’s progress.
This is a competitive recruitment process. Trainee AMHP posts are generally highly sought after and the recruitment process is as robust as for any other post. Once in post, the candidate is provided with a Workforce Development learning agreement that essential covers what happens around course fees if the individual exits the process or leaves within a specific time period post qualification.
c. Successful candidates are offered a position within one of the dedicated locality AMHP teams (this could be within the DPT assigned workforce or the smaller non-assigned AMHP team).
The Trainee AMHP is supported to identify areas of learning and need, while being exposed fully to the AMHP role in situ. This pre-course experience mirrors to a lesser extent the practice placement component of the BU course and affords both the Trainee AMHP and the service the opportunity to further assess the candidate’s knowledge, skills, understandings, value base and suitability for the role without having to fully submit to the requirements of the course at that stage. The Trainee is assessed more broadly against both the statutory AMHP competencies (set out in Regulations to the Mental Health Act 1983) and their regulatory professional standards.
As the Trainee progresses, they are continually observed and assessed and provided with ongoing peer, professional and managerial support. They are treated as part of their team, although at that stage they are not legally approved to undertake the role. Any concerns over practice, areas for development and feedback are provided within supervision and the Trainee would be expected to work of these areas in preparation for the making of an application to the BU course.
d. Application to the BU course and progress on the course
Bournemouth University hold the final say as to who can access their training programme, hence the time and effort DCC put into preparing individuals for the course to maximise the chances of success. BU can suspend or remove a person from the course (within their guidelines) at any point, although at all stages there is a collaborative approach with the local authority to resolve any issues to support progression.
There have been occasions where, despite the support and opportunities on offer, a Trainee AMHP has not been felt suitable or ready for the course. All efforts are made to reduce this possibility. Concerns are raised early in supervision and the Trainee provided with ways to address any deficits. Where a Trainee is still not felt to be suitable or ready despite the best efforts of all involved, the relevant AMHP manager cannot sign a statement supporting the application to the course. In reaching this decision the AMHP Manager discusses the situation with the AMHP management team, AMHP Service Manager, senior DPT and/or DCC managers, HR and Workforce Development to confirm their rationale and explore available options.
In these cases, the organisation has to consider best next steps with the Trainee – invariably results in redeployment. Given that the course runs only once a year, it is not possible to retain a Trainee AMHP within the service – as fundamentally they will have no role to perform. To date no-one has been barred from returning to the process via the recruitment process at a later date, assuming that any issues of concern can be evidenced as having been addressed.
During the course, DCC AMHP Trainees have agreed to leave the process by mutual consent and redeployment has always been secured.
e. Post course
While candidates can pass the academic part of the process, it remains theoretically possible that the Trainee still might not meet the local authority standard for approval as an AMHP (for example having an outstanding complaint or practice concern having been raised). This is at the discretion of DCC AMHP Approval Panel. This has not happened in recent memory. Trainees have always exited the process at the most appropriate point, with the vast majority completing the process fully.
- Devon County Council Policy, if any for the redeployment of Trainee AMHP’s not selected to be recommended for or placed on the AMHP Training course.
The AMHP Trainee role is unique within the local authority and all offers of a place in the process are based on the above understanding that is highlighted and discussed with candidates from the job advert stage and through to the Approval Panel stage.
There is a DCC redeployment policy, although this does not specifically mention the AMHP role. In the few occasions where the AMHP service has needed to support redeployment this is within the spirit of that policy with departure from it potentially possible in order to support the individual into another role. AMHP Trainees are, by definition, already experienced professionals employed at a Senior Social Work grade and, as such, should be in demand for other roles without fear of losing employment.