HCPC have updated their Standards of Proficiency – For more details please click here to see the Standards of Proficiency Page
HCPC report into poor staff retention in the UK prosthetic and orthotic workforce.
Following the recent publication of the findings by HCPC into poor staff retention in UK prosthetics and orthotics, BAPO will seek a meeting to discuss with each of the UK’s four Chief Allied Health Professions Officers.
Chair Peter Iliff said “We have known this has been coming but now have the data to prove it and expect further publications to confirm the crisis affecting our profession. Whilst we have been highlighting this state of affairs for some time, we will now use this data to escalate our concerns and demand action to address the underlying issues”
BAPO is alarmed but not surprised by the findings of HCPC.
In their report published in January 2023, HCPC has revealed that amongst their regulated UK professions, which includes but is not confined to the 14 Allied Health Professions, retention of staff in their early years is lowest in prosthetics and orthotics. 1 in 8 of those who graduated between 2013 and 2018 have left the profession.
The reasons for this are varied but not difficult to understand. As practically every current media bulletin will highlight healthcare in the UK, across all professions, is affected by a workforce crisis. However, the comparative analysis undertaken by HCPC shows a contrast with other professions, such as the paramedics, of whom only 1 in 56 left.
The findings are consistent with those explored by Prosser and Achor (2023). Whilst confined to orthotics, their findings included a likely crisis in staff retention affecting the profession.
BAPO is confident that the recent workforce study it commissioned from Staffordshire University will highlight similar themes. This work is scheduled to be presented in April 2023.
As a professional body, BAPO will continue to highlight its concerns that the lack of an effective career framework, which it believes is strongly associated with the low level of staff retention. Our commitment is to work tirelessly to overcome this obstacle to members and colleagues being given the agency and authority to develop rich and rewarding careers.
This workforce crisis was the core theme of recent addresses given by BAPO at the ISPO UK meeting and BAPO’s 25 year celebration of State Registration.
In December 2022 the Association launched its inaugural a Leadership Programme, to develop future leaders with the skills to confront the challenges highlighted and a programme we intend to run annually.
BAPO will support the development of an Enhanced Practice qualification, as a stepping stone to building a career framework that will lead to an Advanced Practice Qualification. This work is in tandem with a Workforce project BAPO is delivering for HEE, to propose new ways to address challenges in the UK P&O workforce.
The professional body will not achieve this in isolation. HCPCs report was designed for
..employers, professional bodies, education institutions, and others, to support their workforce planning programmes.
To that list, I would explicitly add the commissioners of prosthetic and orthotic services, and those responsible for its procurement. The current model, in most cases, is in no way linked to the AHP Strategy, which explicitly includes prosthetics and orthotics in its remit.
With similar work underway in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, now is the time for all parties to look at the models of service delivery which do not allow the space for Prosthetists / Orthotists to develop their practice, in line with the four pillars model. Too many Prosthetist orthotists are trapped in the clinical pillar employed to deliver a service that is only commissioned on the basis that they deliver, technical clinical care for patients in a way that may not evolve greatly during their career.
The other three pillars of practice, described by NHS Education for Scotland and recognised in other UK nations, are:
- Facilitating Learning:
- Evidence, Research, and Development
This framework enables profession-specific and specialist knowledge, skills and behaviours to be added during the career journey, as opposed to the stifling environment our members and colleagues experience. Starved of role models with broad and varied careers, linked to patient care, Prosthetists / Orthotists are now proven to be leaving in unsustainable numbers.
HCPC’s report was focused on the early years and the training and support contained in Preceptorship, in part because it has been established that
“The quality of preceptorship support has been proven to improve retention rates. High-quality preceptorship programmes support health and care professionals to develop and maintain confident, safe, and effective practice throughout their careers.”
As a first step to bringing stakeholders together, BAPO has established a Training and Education Network, which includes educators and employers from all sections of the UK landscape to come together and work collaboratively to develop a more resilient, self-confident, and engaged workforce. However, this is not sufficient to address the structural challenges affecting our profession.
We have highlighted our concerns about the experience of Prosthetists / Orthotists, who provide services in the UK and how the models of service contribute to both constrained career opportunities and poor workforce retention., Having received this report we follow up those conversations by writing specifically to the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer in each nation to express how this data confirms the content of those previous discussions. We will seek an immediate response as to how these issues can be addressed by involving all parties, including health service leaders, service commissioners, employers, and educators.
 HCPC Insight & Analytics Team (2023), How long do new registrants stay registered for? An analysis of first-time HCPC registrations: 2013 to 2018
 Prosser and Achor (2023). A cross-sectional comparative study: Job satisfaction for orthotists employed by NHS and the private sector. British Journal of Healthcare Management Vol. 29, No. 1
 HCPC (2023)
 The Allied Health Professions (AHPs) strategy for England – AHPs Deliver, NHS England 2022.
 NES NMAHP Post-registration Development Framework (accessed 22 Jan 2023)
 HCPC (2023)
25th Anniversary Celebration Lunch
BAPO KAFO Standard 2022
We have recently published a new KAFO Standard. The standard outlines BAPO’s recommendations for the safe maintenance and use of Knee Ankle Foot Orthoses (KAFO). This guidance is intended to aid governance within a clinical setting and should be read in conjunction with BAPO’s Standards for Best Practice.
NICE Osteoarthritis: assessment and management (update)
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recently proposed an update for the Osteoarthritis: assessment and management guidance (previously published in 2014). The new guidance recommends a significant change in practice which is likely to impact orthotic provision for adults with osteoarthritis. The new guidance recommends the following:
“On considering the evidence identified in this review, the committee agreed that, in general, the evidence for insoles, braces, tape, splints and supports showed no clinically important benefits from their usage when compared to no device use. In some cases, potential harms from the devices were identified (such as blisters with braces). Given this, the committee agreed that based on the absence of strong evidence of benefit and some evidence of harm, that these devices should not be routinely offered”
The statement can be found in “[H] Evidence reviews for the clinical and cost-effectiveness of devices for the management of osteoarthritis” on page 93 lines 33-44.
The British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists (BAPO) strongly opposes this recommendation. BAPO feels it reduces the service users’ conservative treatment options, particularly where surgery and pharmaceutical intervention is contraindicated.
It is ambiguous in terms of orthotic provision as an adjunct to other interventions e.g., pre-and post-surgery. Similarly, the use of the term “routinely” creates further ambiguity.
BAPO is also disappointed that an orthotist was not included as part of the committee reviewing these guidelines.
BAPO has submitted an official response to the guidance outlining our concerns. We await a response from NICE and will endeavour to keep our members up to date with any progress.
2021 Membership Survey
BAPO have now published the results of the 2021 Membership Survery which can be found on the Professional Affairs Resources Page or viewed by clicking here.