The Case for Network Name Change

Dear members

As chair of the ESPPN, I believe that the network should consider aligning itself with the CSP recent resource for advanced physiotherapy practice and adopt a name to reflect this term. The CSP produced its advanced practice resource document in May 2016 and is currently open for feedback from CSP members. To respond to the document go to

I realise that a name change to the professional network may be received with mixed opinions and the ESP committee have themselves, differences of opinion on the subject. An opportunity to debate and discuss the name change will shortly be available on iCSP and the ‘ESP’ thread on iCSP will soon become ‘advanced practice’.  A recent Twitter vote reports that, in over 50 votes, 70% support a name change to reflect advanced practice as opposed to extended scope.

The Extended scope practitioner physiotherapy network was the name chosen by the founding members in 1994, as an umbrella term rather than title and the group represented those physiotherapists working in advanced practice roles.  However the term ESP has been adopted as a title by clinicians over the years and the title is not generally understood beyond the realms of physiotherapy.  The title of the role does not define it but it can reflect it and it seems sensible to use a name for the professional network that make sense to the general public and other health care professions and one that is recognised by the professional body.  Physiotherapist is a protected title and the use of the title avoids ambiguity for patients (Ten Hove, 2016).

In 2008 the CSP moved away from the term ‘extended scope practitioner’ and now refers to ‘advanced practice’ activities (White, 2015).  In Australia, the term extended scope practitioner is defined as a role beyond the scope of the physiotherapy profession and the term specialist physiotherapist is a protected title which is gained after a recognised period of study (APA, 2009)

Advanced level practice lies within the scope of the physiotherapy profession (CSP, 2016).  These roles were developed more than 20 years ago to ease waiting times in orthopaedics and the roles have developed across the different specialities with clinicians exploring the boundaries of the profession.  The resource document goes some way in providing a framework and description of these roles but may fall short of fully recognising the depth of skills and complexity of the steps towards expert level in physiotherapy clinical practice.

Physiotherapists in the UK are ultimately responsible for assessing they are working within  their scope of physiotherapy practice and the CSP provide tools for clinicians to do this.

NHS Scotland stance is that “advanced practitioners are experienced professionals who have developed their skills and theoretical knowledge to a very high level which is supported by evidence.  They perform a highly complex role and continually develop practice within Musculoskeletal Services.” Scotland use the term advanced practitioner and not extended scope practitioner (NHS Scotland, 2012)

Going forward, 3 possible name changes have been suggested:

APP– Advanced physiotherapy practice network (APPN)

AP– Advanced physiotherapy professional network (APPN)

Horizon– A CSP professional network for physiotherapists in advanced practice

There will be vote at the ESPPN AGM on Friday May 12th in Coventry.  More details to follow.
I would like to thank all members for your ongoing support for the PN and without whom the network would not exist.  I look forward to hearing your views via Twitter and iCSP and to seeing you at the next meeting in February and May 2017.


Vicky Russell MCSP

March 2017