Our projects

To date, the Unit has been engaged in a broad portfolio of projects. Below are our current projects.

Mental health nurses complete their courses with a range of skills and the ability to work across a variety of settings. As nurses acquire new experiences and interests they naturally want to progress in their career and go on to specialise.

We are developing the Level 5 and 6 national standards in line with wider HEE work on post-registration standards for mental health nursing. This will enable mental health nurses to have a more consistent approach to career development and reduce variation in post-registration learning and development.

If you are interested or have questions, please email us at workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk

We want to understand how we can best deploy and retain our most experienced mental health nurses.

We know that mental health nurses in the last third of their career can bring their experience, expertise and skills to bear in a unique way. We also know that these nurses may have different needs, desires and challenges that organisations are not always equipped to fully understand.

We therefore want to develop a toolkit bringing together best practice from across England to help employers understand how they can get the best out of these nurses. At the same time, we believe that by doing this we will help these nurses feel valued and supported thereby encouraging them to stay and making the NHS a better place to work.

If you would like to find out more or get involved then please email us at workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk

We are aiming to establish three post-qualification awards, developed in a modular structure, with a clear clinical skill focus accessible to learners from any area of the country irrespective of geographical location.

We have outlined the clinical practice areas that have been chosen by those as identified by both the profession and people with lived experience of learning disability and/or autism. These three award areas include: Specialist In-Patient, Primary & Acute Care Liaison, and Community, Forensic, & Intensive Support. 

These post-qualification awards will demonstrate the practitioner’s specialised capability against national recognised standards. Additionally, having a nationally recognised standard and accreditation will provide assurance to employers of the practitioner capability, and standard of skill set.

A pilot of these awards will be set to launch in late Spring. 

If you would like to find out more or get involved then please email Emily M. Lee at ELee@Tavi-Port.nhs.uk


We are going to measure the impact of our stress and resilience framework on staff wellbeing.

In 2019 we completed the development of the stress and resilience framework. The framework gives health organisations an opportunity to take a step back to have a structured look at how things are in their organisation for their staff.

It does this by recognising the inherent challenges health staff face when providing care. The emphasis is on moving away from the notion of individual resilience and towards the responsibility health organisations have to support their staff.

Following an encouraging response to the release of the framework, HEE has now given us the opportunity to test the impact it could have when NHS organisations adopt it for themselves. We will be working with organisations to pilot the framework and co-produce the evaluation method and metrics around staff wellbeing to understand it’s impact.

 We are also working closely with specialists to ensure that the framework is in line with the most up to date diversity guidelines and that it is as inclusive as possible.  

This project will run until March 2023 and we anticipate at least two more sites to have tested, provided feedback and implemented by that point.

If you would like to find out more or get involved then please email Neil Parmar at nparmar@tavi-port.nhs.uk

We are working with NHS employers to understand their priorities, experiences and challenges around the implementation of new roles.

We are building on the development of our Good Practice in Developing New Workforce Roles tool from 2019 to help trusts develop better workforce plans. These will ensure new roles are considered in the round and vital elements such as diversity, career progression and training are planned in a structured manner.

We will be delivering a series of webinars over the year to all regions in England, where will be listening to local employers and helping them to implement new roles more effectively.  

If you would like to find out more or get involved then please email Joanna Daci at jdaci@tavi-port.nhs.uk

We are looking to capitalise on our diverse and skilled mental health support workforce to better meet the needs of patients and services.

Building on our recently completed mental health careers project we want to better understand opportunities for developing and attracting mental health support workers. We think this could help us build a more diverse workforce while contributing to meeting the ambitious policy targets for mental health set out in the Long Term Plan.

If you would like to find out more or get involved then please email Hannah Poupart at hpoupart@tavi-port.nhs.uk or Atiya Fazalbhai at afazalbhai@tavi-port.nhs.uk

We bring together mental health trusts across England to pool knowledge, experience and understanding to influence the wider system. 

The Tavistock and Portman has been coordinating the National Mental Health Workforce Development Collaborative since 2017. ‘The Collaborative’ is a non-hierarchical network of all mental health trusts in England. We work across organisations and geography to provide HEE and other national bodies with a two way conduit to share best practice, advocate for workforce development and identify gaps and opportunities.

For more information please contact Joanna Daci at jdaci@tavi-port.nhs.uk or visit the National Mental Health Workforce Development Collaborative website https://nmhwdc.nhs.uk/  


The 2020/21 NWSDU Diversity Project is examining the representation and experiences of staff from protected characteristics in the mental health workforce.

The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) and the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) findings highlight that staff from disabled and BAME groups feel that they have less equality of opportunity for promotion. 

Additionally, the WRES reports that the relative likelihood of white staff accessing non-mandatory training and continuous professional development (CPD) was 1.15 compared to BAME staff. 

Differences in achieving career progression between individuals may be expected. However, NHS Staff Survey and HR metrics show that a gulf exists for disabled and BAME staff groups for achieving equality at work. 

For more information please contact Gracious Musariri at gmusariri@tavi-port.nhs.uk

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS and The NHS Long Term Plan describes AHPs as playing a central role in the delivery of person-centred care to help meet the changing demands the NHS is facing.

We want to better understand how AHPs work within Mental Health (MH), Learning disabilities (LD), and Autism settings. By doing this, we will provide a practical toolkit outlining how AHPs can maximise their contribution to service lines across MH, LD, and Autism. At the same time, we will be speaking with various key stakeholders and forming an observatory that will influence the ambition of the AHP Mental Health workforce development across England.

If you would like to find out more or get involved, then please email Atiya Fazalbhai at afazalbhai@tavi-port.nhs.uk or Hannah Poupart at hpoupart@tavi-port.nhs.uk

Below are the projects completed in 2020/21

This project helped four mental health trusts in North Central London to map their non-registered mental health workforce. The project delivered a report which provided a foundation for strategic workforce planning, including workforce metrics, a literature review, a survey of the workforce and recommendations. 

If you are interested in this project or have questions please email workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk

We want to help aspiring nurses and allied health professionals move into leadership positions.

North Central London STP enabled us to expand last year’s mental healthcare leadership programme through a further cohort. The scheme was opened to nurse and allied health professionals in North Central London trusts who are Band 6 and keen to pursue leadership positions in the future.

If you would like to find out more please email Joanna Daci at jdaci@tavi-port.nhs.uk

Below are projects completed in 2019/20.

The project aimed to support the promotion of mental health careers within the NHS. The Unit engaged with experts across different mental health job roles and analysed the data on the workforce (numbers employed, vacancies, diversity etc). We produced a written report which synthesised our findings and mapped out non-medical mental health career pathways.

Learn more

If you are interested in this project or have questions please email workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk

The project made recommendations to HEE as to whether efficiencies in training pathways can be achieved. It highlighted current issues in training pathways, particularly regarding the new roles of Education Mental Health Practitioners and Wellbeing Practitioners for Children and Young People who at this stage may have limited career progression and made recommendations on next steps.


The Attitudes project was borne from the need to investigate the factors, both positive and negative, that affect the numbers of staff in mental health roles to respond to the growing demand. 

This project objectives were to: 

  • Explore attitudes towards mental health careers in the NHS to influence a promotional campaign
  • Use the findings to make recommendations to enhance targeted promotional campaigns for mental health roles.

What did we do?

Barriers may relate to question around perception of careers as well as more practical issues such as financial barriers. For instance, there is a prestige, understanding, perception and a more defined career pathway attached to medical profession that does not necessarily seem to be shared by the non-medical career pathways. Factors such as these were investigated in this project and recommendations were made to support promotion. The project mainly focused on mental health nursing and occupational therapy in mental health. 

Additionally, we hoped for this analysis to guide discussions with educational institutions and workplaces around the barriers to entry for those wishing to embark on mental health career pathways.

How did we do it?

In a first instance, we commissioned research looking to identify key findings from existing research into people’s attitudes and choices in non-medical careers in the NHS. The work was undertaken by the Nuffield Trust. The report revealed that limited previous research on this topic exists. 

We planned to conduct surveys with target populations to gather further data on attitudes towards selected mental health careers. 

We were advised and supported in our work by a group of expert stakeholders via Expert Advisory Groups and consultation.

This project, which was delivered in March 2020, sits under the wider umbrella of our other project on mental health careers. 


The project produced a number of key findings, including but not limited to:

  1. A high proportion of people may be interested in considering mental health nursing as a career.
  2. The large number of mental health careers and the complexity of entry requirements, career progression, education and training can be difficult to understand.
  3. There is a lack of awareness of the variety of mental health careers and a specific lack of understanding of the mental health nursing role.


Based on the project's findings, we have developed headline recommendations, including but not limited to:

  1. To ensure any promotions activity for mental health careers is not carried out in isolation.
  2. Any promotions campaign should account for personal experience of mental health issues as a primary motivator for those considering a mental health career.
  3. A promotions campaign should move away from gendered portrayals and emphasise that mental health nurses are extremely skilled professionals.


Learn more

If you are interested in this project, have questions or would like to see the full report, please email workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk


The project report was submitted to HEE and reviewed. The final deliverable is: 

  • Final report - Enhancing the skills of registered nurses caring for Children and Young People with mental health presentations


This project looked at the skills gap in registered nurses working in children and young people’s mental health services (CYP MHS) and registered nurses working with CYP with mental health presentation to meet the following objectives:

  • To identify and understand the current skills gap in nurses in CYP MHS and approach we need to take to carry this project forward.
  • To outline potential recommendations to address the skills gap of registered nurses working in CYP MHS.

What did we do? 

CYP MHS are a high-profile service area that is a key focus for growth and investment in the NHS national strategies. The key priorities are to expand CYP MHS, improve quick access to high quality treatment, and have a joined up multi-agency approach to working.

The profession of nursing makes up the highest proportion of the CYP MH workforce (29%), and has the highest number of total vacancies (41%), as identified in the latest CYP MHS Workforce Report published by HEE in 2018. There is a general consensus amongst the nursing workforce that there is a “known skills gap” in this area. This is largely around a lack of focussed modules and placements in the area of CYP MH in the nursing curriculum across the four specialisms of mental health, child, learning disability and adult nursing. Therefore, there is seen to be a burden on the services to train up nurses in the area, which the Unit sought to identify and address.

How did we do it? 

To do this, we created and disseminated surveys to the current CYP MH nursing workforce to seek an understanding of the current skills gap facing nurses and services, where this training gap lies i.e. is it in pre-registration training, workplace training, and the current training offer. We identified nursing experts in the area from both NHS services and academia, to create an Expert Advisory Group (EAG). The group provides advice and shapes the project delivery and outcomes.

This 6-month project ran from October 2019 to March 2020.

Learn more

If you are interested in this project or have questions, please email us at workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk


This project aimed to optimise the development of multi-professional approved clinician roles within organisations, using an implementation guide to raise awareness and increase uptake across England.

What did we do? 

The 2007 amendments to the Mental Health Act 1983 introduced the roles of approved clinician and responsible clinician, enabling mental health professionals other than psychiatrists to carry out duties previously performed by psychiatrists. We were commissioned by HEE to develop a National Implementation Guide using current evidence to raise awareness and promote development of the role within organisations across England. This guide is particularly aimed at workforce planners and trust executives looking to transform their workforce to meet the diverse needs of patients.

How did we do it? 

To do this, an expert advisory group (EAG), complemented by a smaller working group of approved / responsible clinicians from the four eligible professions was convened to gain a broader understanding of the process of working towards approval for the relevant professions.

In the first instance, we identified a number of barriers and enablers around the wider uptake of the role. These were further explored with a group of approved and responsible clinicians to better understand the challenges and solutions required to take this work forward. This helped to shape the direction of the project.

The project ran from March 2019 to January 2020.


The Approved Clinician Guide has now been published for NHS organisations and partner agencies to use. 

For more information, click here

Learn more

If you are interested in this project or have questions please email us on workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk


This project aims to update and refresh the e-learning modules from the Mental Health Awareness programme for health care staff on the e-Learning for Healthcare website.

What did we do? 

The modules from the Mental Health Awareness e-learning programme were last updated and reviewed in 2016-2017.

We worked alongside HEE, e-Learning for Health and the Institute of Health Visitors, as well as a wide group of clinical content writers and reviewers to update and renew the content. Certain sessions were no longer relevant and required new content while other sessions needed to be updated.

The programme is split into the following modules:

  • Mental Health Awareness for Healthcare Professionals
  • Mental Health Awareness for GPs
  • Perinatal Mental Health
  • Mental Health in Emergency Medicine
  • Mental Health for Practice Nurses

How did we do it? 

To do this, we engaged clinical content writers and reviewers to assess, review and update the e-learning modules.

The updated and renewed module content were peer reviewed and passed to e-Learning for Health to instate into the library of e-learning resources for health care staff.

The project ran from April 2019 to March 2020.

Learn more

If you are interested in this project or have questions email us at workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk


This work brought together a few existing frameworks developed for primary care mental health over the past ten years. The project focused on the construct of a GP surgery rather than associated primary care mental health services. The Unit delivered a matrix which represents the most up-to-date thinking in the area and is intended for use as a tool to help Primary Care organisations commission training against.


Below are projects completed between 2016/17 and 2018/19.


The project considered approaches to psychological stress, with a focus on chronic stress. A framework was developed focusing on organisational rather than individual resilience. 

What did we do?

People are the most important resource in the NHS, yet in some situations an organisation’s staff can feel undervalued, powerless and invisible. In 2017, HEE commissioned us to explore this issue further. In response, we developed a framework for thinking about staff mental health and wellbeing entitled “Workforce Stress and the Supportive Organisation: A Framework for improvement through reflection, curiosity and change”

How did we do it? 

We collaborated with a great number of stakeholders on this project. In a first instance, we commissioned the Mental Health Foundation to put together a report o inform the work of the project’s Expert Reference Group by presenting evidence, identifying policy opportunities, and highlighting critical issues for its consideration. Read or download the report.

The research revealed that there was a great number of interventions but there wasn't necessarily evidence for these. Also, the focus is very much on the individual to be resilient rather than asking what the organisation should do to support its staff. 

A regular Expert Reference Group was also convened to discuss the findings and consider the next steps. It was decided that a framework was needed to support organisations doing the thinking around how to support staff. The ERG provided the conceptual foundations for this framework. We also worked closely with Tavistock Consulting on the content of the framework. The result was a framework for thinking, providing a process for organisations. 

The framework was tested for proof of concept in a series of NHS trusts involving stakeholders from various backgrounds. 

The framework was submitted to HEE in March 2019. It is available for download on the HEE website

Learn more

If you are interested in this project or have questions please email Neil Parmar at nparmar@tavi-port.nhs.uk


This project supported the update of the NSPCC Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) framework to make it more health care specific. Alongside, the NSPCC ran a campaign to increase awareness of the issue in the health care sector. 

What did we do?

Around a third of child sexual abuse in the UK is carried out by other children or young people (CYP) according to the NSPCC’s harmful sexual behaviour framework. HSB can range from ‘sexting’ to aggressive sexual behaviour. Despite increasing evidence on the scale, nature and complexity of the problem, service provision across the UK remains patchy and relatively uncoordinated.

Our initial research highlighted that awareness of this problem was very limited in the health care sector. It was therefore decided to provide a tool specific to health care as well as support an awareness raising campaign. 

How did we do it? 

For this project we collaborated closely with the The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) who had already developed an Harmful Sexual Behaviour Framework. The project developed this framework to be more inclusive of health staff and to develop a set of practical resources to support health staff dealing with HSB issues. 

To do this, workshops were held with health care professionals. This then fed into an update of the HSB framework as well as further online tools which can be found here

The project ended in March 2019.

Learn more

If you are interested in this project or have questions please email us at workforce@tavi-port.nhs.uk


Enhancing system leadership was identified as a key area for improvement by the Lenehan ‘These are our Children’ report. This project followed one of the key recommendations from the previous Unit’s report 2017/18 Children and Young People Transforming Care Workforce for HEE. The report highlighted the need for high quality cross-system leadership in children and young people’s learning disability services.


Working with services that provide support to children and young people with learning difficulties and/or autism, the project established two ‘Group Relations’ events for two geographical systems to enhance system leadership capacity.


The provision of two cross-system leadership events based on a ‘Group Relations’ development model in Cumbria and Essex for staff on the topic of leadership.

Project completion date

May 2019.


To develop a strategic workforce planning framework to support workforce development in the 49 Transforming Care Partnerships.


This project started in 2016/2017 in direct response to a number of the Lenehan “These are our children” review recommendations.


A skills matrix to enable local system leaders to understand the essential workforce skills.

A series of recommendations for further work in education, training and skills development submitted to the Transforming Care Programme.

Project completion date

May 2018.


To consider workforce competency and training provision to support the expansion of perinatal services


The Unit was commissioned to develop a national competency framework for the perinatal workforce and to survey existing and planned perinatal mental health training across England, against the competencies in the perinatal competency framework.


A perinatal competency framework with associated training map, available on the e-Learning for Health portal.

Project completion date

September 2017.

Project lead

Jo Maitland, Perinatal Mental Health Training and Service Development Lead jmaitland@tavi-port.nhs.uk


To support front line staff to better understand and manage their needs when working with frequent service attenders through reflective practice.


People who attend A and E and primary care frequently and often inappropriately, may sometimes have underlying psychological issues. This programme enables non-mental health trained staff to explore these issues through reflective practice.


An e-learning module for front line emergency services, A and E and primary care staff, demonstrating the benefits of reflective practice. 

Project completion date

January 2019.


Reviews of workforce plans revealed that the lack of an integrated approach to planning creates risk in role success and sustainability.


The project developed a definitive practical guide to developing new roles, which draws from the evidence and is aimed at service and workforce planners.


Interactive best practice guidance on the development of new workforce roles to support workforce and service planners.

Project completion date

March 2019.

For more details on a specific project see the following:

Building on the mental health support workforce

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