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This section tells you all you need to know about the Competence Assessment Tools. Click a link below to learn more.

  • How can I continue to Develop in Infection Prevention Control?

    You can use these competences to inform your development. It does not matter what your starting point is – you might already be close to achieving all of these competences, or might be a long way off and have a lot of development to undertake. The thought processes  that you need to go through and the actions you need to take, however, will be similar; the difference will be in the amount of development that is needed. These competences describe what an individual is expected to be able to do when they are fully functioning at an advanced level.

    To continue to develop yourself, you need to undertake an honest assessment of your current level of knowledge and skills and your ability to apply them in practice. It is recommended that you seek the help of others (for example, your colleagues, peers and your manager) as they may have a different view of your current level of competence, as well as an understanding of the exact meaning of the competences. This is particularly important when you are new to the area as some of the statements might look simpler than they in fact are.

    Once you have a realistic assessment of your own current level of knowledge, skills and competence against the advanced level competences, i.e. you have identified your learning needs, you will then need to plan how you can best develop yourself to the level required. This might be through self-study, undertaking learning programmes and/or academic qualifications, or seeking learning opportunities in the workplace, such as mentoring and job shadowing. As your learning and development progresses, you should revisit the competences and continue to assess yourself to identify your progress in achieving all of the competences.

  • How can the Competences be Applied in Workforce Development and Management?

    The IPC competences can be used to recruit and select new staff by building job requirements and personnel specifications around the four domains of advanced practice (with local stakeholders agreeing the essential and desirable elements). However, as part of the selection process, all new IPC practitioners should be able to provide evidence of the generic infection prevention and control competences expected in their previous role, as well as their willingness to work towards the full range of specialist advanced competences described in this document. On recruitment, a self and peer review of current levels of competence against the framework will be required, and a personal development plan (PDP) with agreed timescales must be developed to fill identified learning needs. The Personal Development Plan (PDP) can then be used as a framework for coaching and for agreeing education, training and development.

    For staff already in an IPC post the PDP can be used in the same way. However, it is important to note that as practitioners operate in an organisational context and work as part of a wider team and culture, the competences are not themselves a performance management tool. But they do have a clear part to play in the process. As the competencies are intended to specify what it is that an individual should achieve, they do not include service outcomes or performance measures. Even though these practitioners should have a clear impact on the rates of healthcare associated infections and adverse effects, it is not possible to draw a firm, direct relationship between the two. The overall effectiveness of a practitioner will be affected by the support and priority that an organisation gives to their work. As well as using these competences to contribute to job descriptions. Organisations might want to add measurement indicators of safe, clean, high quality care into an individual’s personal objectives and include them in appraisal systems.

  • How can the Competences be used?

    The competences are designed to be an information resource for a range of possible uses as shown in the diagram below. The competences are designed to be a multi-purpose tool that will support and inform strategic planning, workforce development and management at strategic and unit level. They will also provide guidance for educational commissioning and will structure the content of education and training programmes, whether these are developed internally by employing organisations or are university accredited. The competences will also enhance local accountability and support the role and development of current and aspiring infection prevention and control practitioners.

    Some examples of how the competences might be used are set out below.

    Service and Strategic Level

    • Service reviews
    • Workforce/role design and profiling
    • Education commissioning, planning and provision


    Unit and Managerial Level

    • Recruitment and selection
    • Staff appraisal
    • Education, training and development planning and delivery
    • Career development and advice
    • Design of professional and vocational qualifications


    Individual and Team Level

    • Career progression
    • Self-assessment and personal development planning
    • Coaching
    • Clinical supervision
    • NMC Revalidation


    The Competences:

    1. Provide clarity for organisations as to what they can expect IPC practitioners to do, that is, the competences will identify the unique contribution that IPC practitioners make to the work of the organisation and hence the value that they bring to it
    2. Provide benchmarks for organisations to use in the recruitment, selection, development, appraisal and performance management of IPC practitioners
    3. Contribute to the development of specifications for IPC services by identifying the outcomes that IPC practitioners can be expected to deliver
    4. Contribute to the education and training of individuals who are aiming to become IPC practitioners – both for organisations that are looking to commission education and training for practitioners to work at this level and for organisations providing that education and training
    5. Contribute to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of individuals when they are in post in order to maintain and improve their competence and provide supporting evidence for NMC revalidation
    6. Contribute to the development of workforce specifications by identifying the role and contributions of IPC practitioners
    7. Can be used as the basis of a skills and career framework for those whose interest lies in infection prevention and control (including IPC practitioners), for example in demonstrating how people develop to a consultant-level post
    8. Support the mapping of the role of IPC practitioners with different regulatory requirements.
  • Who are the these Competences For?

    These competencies are designed for use by a number of people, including:

    • Organisations who are looking for an expert to drive forward their safety and quality agenda and prevent and manage healthcare associated infections
    • Managers of health and social care services, so they can understand the expert advice that should be available to them and that they can draw on
    • Educational commissioners and providers, so that they can ensure that education and training provision meets service needs and promotes quality and safety
    • Practitioners working in IPC, so that they can better understand their roles in all its aspects
    • Practitioners who contribute to IPC and who have an interest in developing their knowledge, understanding and skills in this area in the future.


    Infection prevention and control practitioners are experienced and educated members of a multidisciplinary health and social care team who work both on their own and in partnership with others. They have an extension knowledge base that includes and understanding of microbiology, epidemiology and immunology, coupled with organisational strategy and operational practice. They use a range of skills including:

    • Influencing and negotiating
    • Communicating
    • Complex decision making
    • Influencing strategic decision making
    • Information and knowledge management
    • Engagement and facilitation
    • Leadership and risk management.


    These advanced practitioners ensure safe, high-quality services for the public, and support improvement so that the safety and quality of care is continually enhanced. Infection prevention and control is a constantly changing field with  emerging threats from new and resistant micro-organisms, new challenges arising, and new ways of managing healthcare associated infections being developed all the time. Practitioners working at an advanced level need to keep abreast of these threats and emerging methodologies, so that they can be proactive in dealing with the challenges faced by their organisations.

  • Why do we need Competences for Infection Prevention and Control Practitioners?

    The focus on reducing healthcare associated infections continues throughout the UK and the introduction of patient safety improvement programmes has highlighted the role of healthcare associated infections as incidents that have an adverse effect on public safety and quality of care. The prevention, management and control of these infections is therefore a priority area for each of the four UK governments. It requires action by all organisations involved with health and social care.

    Infection prevention and control practitioners have a key role to play in scanning the environment for new and emerging threats to safety, as well as improving the safety and quality of care delivered to individuals and populations. They provide colleagues across all health and social care settings with robust clinical expertise, advice, support and guidance so that they can work in partnership to prevent, manage and control healthcare associated infections Infection prevention and control practitioners increasingly come from a wide range of professional or occupational backgrounds and often bring very different knowledge, skills and experience to the role. These competences have been produced by expert practitioners and academics in the field and endorsed by the UK health departments, to provide a consistent set of standards and expectations for the role across the UK.

    The majority of practitioners working in NHS organisations (excluding medical personnel) will be working within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF) (Department of Health, 2004) and Career Framework for Health (Skills for Health, 2010). The role of IPC practitioner has therefore been positioned at senior practitioner level in the Career Framework for Health. There is an expectation that post-holders work at advanced-level practice (or are working towards that level), and are in possession of the qualifications and specialist knowledge commensurate with a senior practitioner. However, to retain flexibility and accommodate differences in the UK healthcare systems and between local service providers (for example, different patient/client case mix, staff skills mix and organisational structures) decisions about job titles, qualifications, pay bands and rewards should be made by the organisation that is employing the practitioner. It is also the employer’s responsibility to ensure that practitioners working at an advanced level in infection prevention and control: have access to the qualifications at an appropriate level, i.e. at level 7 of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) (QAA, 2008) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and level 11 of the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) (SCQF, 2009),  are provided with appropriate certificated training,  have designated authority to carry out the competences safely and independently.

After reading this section you may decide that you would like to complete a competence assessment to help you think about your development needs.

Click here to download the Outcome Competences for Practitioners in Infection Prevention and Control