You may have heard about advanced clinical practitioners (ACPs). In this section, you will be able to find out more about what this means for the speech and language therapy profession. This information can help you to decide whether advanced clinical practice is something that you or your service may wish to consider.

What is ACP?

So what does advanced clinical practice actually mean? The multi-professional framework for Advanced Clinical Practice in England provides this definition:

Advanced clinical practice is delivered by experienced, registered health and care practitioners. It is a level of practice characterised by a high degree of autonomy and complex decision making. This is underpinned by a master’s level award or equivalent that encompasses the four pillars of clinical practice, leadership and management, education and research, with demonstration of core capabilities and area specific clinical competence.

The RCSLT produced a position statement on advanced practice and consultant practice in September 2019. It states that:

The RCSLT Board of Trustees considers that these roles will offer important new opportunities for career progression to speech and language therapists (SLTs). They will also make an important contribution to improving service quality and accessibility for service users to timely treatment.

Furthermore, it emphasises that:

Taking on an ACP role does not mean not being an SLT anymore.

As outlined in the position statement, the RCSLT promotes:

  • ACP and consultant practice as a level of practice rather than particular roles;
  • ways to ensure that SLTs already in these roles (whether or not their title reflects that) are able to access credentialing opportunities – in England it is being proposed that it will be possible to demonstrate practice at the required level by means of an accredited portfolio;
  • that not being able to prescribe should not preclude SLTs from taking on ACP roles, in some cases patient group direction can provide a solution;
  • ACP frameworks cannot contain prescribing as a mandatory requirement if they are to be multi-professional, it must be optional or it will exclude some AHPs;
  • greater clarity about where ACP roles fit within career pathways and how they are different from specialist roles – in our view there remains some ambiguity over the distinction between advanced clinical practice and clinical specialism;
  • the development of processes and systems that work UK-wide for recognising individual practitioners’ fulfilment of advanced-level capabilities – or the development of parallel approaches that reduce the risk of misaligned approaches and achieve clarity for all stakeholders;
  • better capture of data on SLTs working in these roles; 
  • recognition that SLTs can take on ACP roles across a range of settings, from acute to community, and across adult and children’s services, and that these roles are not limited to taking on roles of other medical staff.

You can download the RCSLT policy position statement here.

What are the benefits of the ACP role for the speech and language therapy profession? Firstly, as the policy position statement highlights, the role demonstrates clear career progression. Secondly, it may well enable staff to receive acknowledgement for work that they are already doing that demonstrates ACP competencies. This refers back to the ACP Framework and the four pillars that underpin it: 

  • Clinical practice
  • Leadership and management
  • Education 
  • Research


There are also frameworks in Northern Ireland and Wales and work is ongoing in Scotland to update earlier frameworks to make them multi-professional.


A Skills for Health Core Capabilities Framework for Advanced Clinical Practice (Nurses) Working in General Practice / Primary Care in England was published in January.

A Skills for Health ACP Capabilities Framework when working with people who have a learning disability and/or autism was published in April. 
There are other frameworks being developed for mental health and older adults which are due to be published by the end of the year. 

ACP and service development

Developing an ACP role needs careful consideration. Thought needs to be given as to whether an ACP role would meet the needs of a service. There may only be a demand for one AHP ACP within a multidisciplinary team, and a clear rationale for this role needs to be set out. Services may wish to identify a role for an ACP trainee to progress to in order to ensure the CPD of the trainee as well as to meet the anticipated needs of the service. It’s important to remember that in terms of career progression, SLTs aren’t missing out on opportunities if they don’t become ACPs. Highly specialist roles are just as important as they always have been. It may well be the case that two  SLTs could be working at the same band or level with one in an ACP role and one in a highly specialist role.
Progression to consultant level is possible via both roles. 

What are the training routes to become an ACP?

If you are interested in becoming an ACP, there is still the opportunity to do so. There are a number of universities across the country that offer ACP training courses. Training models vary but trainees often spend a day a week attending lectures. HEE has provided funding for healthcare professionals to undertake these ACP courses to date. In addition, a level 7 apprenticeship has been developed,   funded via the apprenticeship levy, and this route is also available at some universities.
You can find out more about training options here


Trainee SLT ACPs

We are aware of only a handful of trainee SLT advanced clinical practitioners but this number is likely to increase. One SLT ACP trainee describes her role in My Working Life in the February 2020 edition of Bulletin. You can read the article here.


Consultant roles

HEE is working with Canterbury Christ Church University and the England Centre for Practice Development on a Multi-professional Consultant Level Practice Capability and Impact Framework. This framework has five pillars: 


  • Expert practice
  • Strategic enabling leadership
  • Learning, developing, improving across the system
  • Research and innovation 
  • Consultancy across all pillars from practice to systems levels

The RCSLT took part in the consultation about the development of this framework. We will update these pages when we have more information about the publication date.






Case studies

SLT ACP role – example case study on HEE website  (Case studies> Speech and Language Therapy ACP_0.pdf)




Other useful RCSLT information

If you are planning to develop your service to offer ACP roles, you may find the service planning and improvement pages of the RCSLT website helpful. 

If you have any feedback on this page or would like to suggest or share resources for these pages, please get in touch here.

Please note: the resources in this section are provided for informational purposes only. No endorsement is expressed or implied unless otherwise stated, and while we make every effort to ensure this page is up-to-date and relevant, we cannot take responsibility for resources maintained by external providers.

For further details on evolving roles, please click here

For more information on ACP, please contact 


ACP and COVID-19

If you are an ACP trainee and COVID-19 has changed how you are working then we are interested in hearing from you. Equally, if you are not an ACP but you think your work during COVID-19 has meant that your new role would meet the ACP criteria, please do get in touch. Email: