About ESP PN


The Extended Scope Practitioners Professional Network was formed in 1995 to support physiotherapists working in extended scope roles.  The founding members developed the role for physiotherapists to work with orthopaedic surgeons to help reduce the waiting times for patients attending orthopaedic clinics.  Physiotherapists developed skills to encompass tasks that previously were undertaken by the medical profession, such as requesting investigations and listing for surgery.   ESPPN started as an occupational group and was officially recognised by the CSP in 1999.  It started with the modest number of 35, became a professional network in 2006 and in 2015 has grown to over 600 members. The ESPPN sits with the occupational roles alliance which includes, amongst others, Physio First and LaMPS. To find out more about the six alliances and the professional networks click here to see the professional networks hand book.

Professional Network is the term given to a physiotherapy organisation that has been recognized by the CSP.  These are self-governing bodies that are responsible for their own financial and organisational liabilities.

There are now over 30  Professional Networks affiliated to the CSP.  These networks have formed into 6 Alliance groups:

o    Neuroscience

o    Therapeutic Skills

o    Cardio Respiratory

o    Client Groups

o    Occupational Roles

o    Neuromusculoskeletal

Over the past 20 years there has been considerable development of physiotherapy and other allied health professional roles to meet the demands of healthcare moving into the 21st century.  Physiotherapy roles have demanded innovation and flexibility and learning new skills whilst at the same time remaining under the 4th pillar of physiotherapy (kindred treatments) and retaining the identity of the physiotherapy profession.  To find out more on the 4 pillars of physiotherapy click here

Although the term “extended scope practitioner” has become a commonly used title for these roles, and in order in to reflect the direction of travel for this group within the profession, the term advanced practice is used to describe the level of practice.  The professional network retains the name ‘ Extended Scope Practitioners’ to reflect the various titles that are used. (CSP, 2015).

The term ‘scope of practice’ describes the breadth of activity carried out by the profession as well as by individual physiotherapists. To find out more about the CSP scope of practice (2014) click here

Advanced level practice

Someone working at advanced level practice would be able to:

  • Demonstrate a technical mastery of complex skills within unpredictable and specialised contexts
  • Modify a technique in action
  • Have a critical awareness of the political, social, economic & institutional factors shaping the health & wellbeing economy & how they inform the current & future design, delivery & professional development of physiotherapy at a local & regional level
  • Evaluate their own and others performance in unpredictable and specialised contexts (CSP Framework 2011)

Clinicians working in as ESPs are going to be in a role that could be ground breaking, fulfilling and rewarding.  At the same time these roles can be complex and demanding, requiring innovation and exploration of  the current limits of knowledge and practice (CSP 2011)..

Although more research is required, evidence suggest that people who work at an advanced level of practice are reported to help teams improve service outcomes and team productivity and increase team capacity (Miller, Cox and William 2009). Further evidence is needed to demonstrate that these roles improve patient experiences and outcomes.

To find out more on the CSP Physiotherapy Framework click here.

Vicky Russell November 2015