The need for formal training specific to the work of hospital play specialists was recognised by the early 1970's. The first training course for Hospital Play Specialists was established at Chiswick College in 1973 with Dr Hugh Jolly as the first external examiner.

The Hospital Play Staff Examination Board (HPSEB) was set up, with the aid of a grant from the Department of Health, as a totally independent educational trust with charitable status to separate the training course from the support function of the professional association NAHPS.

HPSEB in 1986, set the syllabus, devised an examination paper and appointed a Chief Examination Officer to scrutinise the examination papers.

In 1992 HPSEB was approved as an awarding body by the Secretary of State for Education and the certificate received national recognition as the qualification for Hospital Play Specialists.

HPSEB decided to strengthen the academic status of the award by linking it with another awarding body. An approach was made to BTEC (Edexcel) to offer a course that would be jointly validated. This joint programme was introduced into all colleges from 1995.

As the HPSEB had become a registration body and was no longer the examination body, in 1996 on the recommendation of the Charity Commission, its title was changed to the Hospital Play Staff Education Trust.

In September 2004 BTEC and HPSET introduced a new Level 4 qualification – A Professional Diploma in Specialised Play for Sick Children and Young People which has been accredited at Level 4 on the National Qualification Framework

In November 2008 following extensive consultation the Board approved the proposal that the next programme of study should be a Foundation Degree with entry to the professional register at level 5, and that in conjunction with the validating university the pilot programmes would be offered by 2 colleges.

The pilot programmes were validated by Thames Valley University to commence in September 2010 at Bolton and Stanmore Colleges.

The new Foundation Degree Award ‘Healthcare Play Specialism’ will be recognised as the requirement for application for professional registration with the Healthcare Play Specialist Education Trust (HPSET) and a Licence to Practice as a Registered Play Specialists (Health). Both the qualification and professional registration together will form the recognised qualification and standard for work in the National Health Service (NHS) and many community healthcare settings.


HPSET is a registered charity; number 292218.