Developing interprofessional education in health and social care courses in the United Kingdom
The turn of the Century was a watershed in the short history of interprofessional education (IPE) in the United Kingdom (UK) when the Labour government promoted “common learning” to be built in to the mainstream of pre-registration professional education for all the health and social care professions to help implement its modernisation strategy (Secretary of State for Health, 2000; Department of Health, 2004). The proposition was as seductive as it was simple: learning together would deliver not only a more collaborative but also a more flexible and more mobile workforce responsive to the exigencies of practice and the expectations of management. Reference to 30 years of IPE experience was conspicuous by its absence. The past was and past. New wine was not to be put in old bottles. Interprofessional activists responded with difficulty as they struggled to reconcile government’s expectations with the interprofessional antecedents and searched for consensus between educational, professional and political perspectives within a coherent and credible framework. That is the story which we tell. It picks up where the previous historical review left off (Barr, 2007a) and revisits many of the issues raised as interprofessional activists engage with the changes ahead (Barr, 2002). The outcome is, however, more than a historical record of events during the past 15 years. It paves the way for another ‘chapter’ in the ongoing saga of IPE in the UK as newfound policies shape education and practice following a change of government. It is addressed to policy makers, managers, teachers and researchers who have travelled all or some of the same road to help them reappraise their experience, review the evidence, revisit the arguments and refocus; also to their colleagues who are relatively new to IPE to learn from others, obviate the need to reinvent the wheel and avoid some of the pitfalls.