If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Issues related to pay, contracts, Agenda for Change, the NHS, the BPS, unions, etc.
User avatar
Posts: 79
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:08 am

Re: If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Post by amyaston88 »

I think people assume NHS experience is required to get onto a course. I know in many of the course specs there is mention of having worked in the NHS, and during one university talk I went to they said that a years NHS experience will give you one point when scoring applications. I only have experience in the private/voluntary sector however and it hasn't proved a barrier... however had I not got on a course this year I would have likely seen an NHS AP job as the next possible step.
Posts: 70
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:17 am

Re: If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Post by rebeccasmith1201 »

I echo a lot of the points already made on this forum...

I have had the opportunity to work both privately and within the NHS as an AP, and this thread has made me think about the difference of these roles and applying to them.

Firstly I think due to the NHS vacancy system, you hear about positions more easily by email alerts etc, and in turn apply when a position comes along. I think that due to some adverts posting that they will 'close after 50 applicants', people may not send their strongest application. Even if it may not state it on the advert, in the back of your mind you may have the automatic thought of 'apply quickly before it goes!'. I think I have also seen something similar to this on some private healthcare sites... despite the application being open for up to 4 weeks! This occurred when they advertised for my position when I was leaving, although they kept the advert open for quite a long period of time. Also in my experience, although I have signed up to email alerts for positions private companies I haven't received any through, despite knowing a position had become available. It maybe just a positive to the NHS HR system of advertising vacancies.

Secondly, I agree that some people may feel that having an NHS position would be seen more beneficial when applying for the clinical doctorate. Most courses ask applicants to reflect on the NHS system and clinical psychologists roles within this... which is a lot easier if you've worked alongside one as an AP! I certainly have seen very different roles in private vs NHS as psychologists.

Thirdly, the NHS offers a banding system with ways to progress in terms of salary. One of the (small) reasons I left my last place of work (in private healthcare) was the lack of progression in terms of pay. I felt that the role I was doing would have been reflected very differently if I was doing it in the NHS. I know that pay isn't everything, but when you're working overtime regularly just to keep up with the amount of work in the everyday week... getting a pay rise makes a difference!
User avatar
Posts: 614
Joined: Sat Dec 10, 2011 1:46 am

Re: If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Post by sarahg »

I think the NHS 'brand' probably plays a role when people are looking for AP jobs.
It's like working at a red-brick university in academia. You think it will look better on your CV, you think you will have better opportunities, you think it will get you further up the career ladder (and quicker), you think you'll be happier there etc etc. As it's the NHS, they must provide a certain quality of supervision and support (surely ;) ).

Actually in reality, these things aren't always true, and can be the complete opposite. I think people think there is a greater risk with applying for AP jobs in the private-sector as well. Such that with the NHS, people may view that their job will have a set 'standard'. They may not realise this standard has to extend to the private-sector as well. We have to remember these individuals will not be as informed as CPs and other mental-health professionals who have been in the field a while.
User avatar
Posts: 81
Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2011 12:23 pm

Re: If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Post by WindWhisperer »

Lots of interesting points here and agree wholeheartedly with those raised re: awareness, exposure, gaining an understanding of the NHS for training and the perceived risk of the unknown when working in the private sector.

Just to throw a curveball out there...

I wonder if there are also personal moral/value stances playing a role for some people? I speak as a current trainee on a course that has begun to utilise private placements and I've always been vocal in requesting not to be placed within the private sector. Equally, when applying for assistant posts prior to training I always consciously kept my applications to NHS posts. My personal stance is that we are in such a privileged position to have our training completely funded by the NHS and therefore I object to providing my "services" to exterior companies rather than contributing back into the system as it were.

Also - (disclaimer! I'm not in any way implying that this is true of all private sector companies as I know it is not!) - but one of the risks I've been aware of is that *some* services in the private healthcare sector operate very much as a business with an underlying goal of making a profit. I even know of one friend who worked recently as an AP in private healthcare (mainly made up of psych services) where the team would frequently have meals out, extravagent away days etc all funded by the business, and I'm afraid that just really doesn't sit comfortably with me. It just all conflicts with my strong feelings that there should be free healthcare for all and that healthcare provision should never seek to be profitable (i.e. any profit should be reinvested in order to provide improved services). Adding to that I've always taken a real sense of fulfillment working in the NHS with clients that I know need support just the same as a private client might but could never afford to see a psychologist privately.

Hope that all made sense on some level, I was just intrigued that no-one seemed to have mentioned this as a potential reason for some individuals avoiding private sector posts! Or maybe it's just me :)
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:28 am

Re: If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Post by kellula »


Your point is a good one. Personally, I really hope that candidates do not avoid the private sector for this reason. I work in a private international school in Spain and, having also worked in the NHS as a Clinical Psychologist, I can tell you that the children I have worked with in the past ten years are very much in need, despite the fact that their parents can afford private school fees. It would be sad for assistants to avoid the private sector because they assume their clients will be privileged. Moving from the NHS to the private sector is not without its political adjustments, we have to be honest here, but we have something to offer and something to learn from all of our clients regardless of their background or finances. One of my assistants was just offered a funded Ed Psych place (first time applying) and she had never worked in the NHS.

I am from a single parent, working class background and my dedication as a volunteer research assistant opened the Clinical Psychology pathway for me. I fiercely defend my assistants from exploitation but I do recognise the point made by someone here about some private sector psychology departments not being able to offer the same salary levels as the NHS. What has to shift is the assumption that anyone not offering an NHS salary is trying to make a fast buck. My first assistant post happened to be at the Maudsley. I was a volunteer. I had written to just about every Psychology department in the country and the project I was involved in had not received funding for a research assistant. It was a reputable department, it just didn't have enough of a research grant for that particular project to fund my work. Thanks to my work gathering clinical data, several papers were published and I was accepted onto clinical training the following year (first time applicant). I will be forever grateful for that experience and I cherish the opportunity to help other graduates make that first important step onto the competitive psychology career ladder as a supervisor. Please, don't judge the private sector by it's clients' wallets.
User avatar
Site Admin
Posts: 8013
Joined: Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:20 pm
Location: Bucks

Re: If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Post by miriam »

Actually, please don't assume that the private sector involves its client's wallets! My business has always done work for the courts, which is funded from legal aid and local authorities. We also do therapy, which is often funded by local authorities or sometimes by insurance and rarely by clients themselves (and we tier the charges according to their means). Now I work also for a children's home company - again providing a service that the families don't pay for, as it is commissioned by the Local Authorities.

It is all important work, and there isn't a black and white between the NHS (which now works in trusts which make a profit, pays PFI rents to profit-making owners, gets all its supplies and medication from profit-making businesses, and probably pays its managers more than in the private sectors I've worked in). I think your 'high moral stance' is sadly more in your head than reality. I'm absolutely in favour of a strong public sector, and I'm very left wing politically, but I'm a pragmatist about where I can make most impact for the clients (and colleagues) that need my skills the most.

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com
User avatar
Posts: 2844
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:42 pm

Re: If AP posts are so competitive then why....

Post by BlueCat »

Just to echo what Miriam said above, private sector doesn't = people who use the services paying for the services. I work for a huge national private provider of specialist mental health and social care services. ALL of our services are provided to the NHS and local authorities, I don't think it is even possible to access our services in any other way. Similarly, a lot of services which look like they're NHS actually aren't any more - e.g. in and around Exeter, I believe VirginCare have the contract for provision of mental health services (e.g. CAMHS, CMHT etc).

YEs I would rather this didn't happen, I would rather we still had a centralised NHS. But we haven't any more.
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.
Post Reply