Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) is a group of 12 different professions which form the third largest group of healthcare staff. At Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust (WHCT) we employ staff from six of those disciplines; dietetics, occupational therapy, paramedic, physiotherapy, podiatry and speech and language therapy.
They work both closely with other healthcare colleagues and autonomously across a range of services supporting children through to older people, across mental and physical health. As well as providing therapeutic help and clinical advice they can help to educate carers and families to enable people to remain at home and live more independently. They have a key role in the wider aim to provide more care and treatment at home, which is what patients consistently tell us they would prefer, and which is a key part of our local health and care strategy for the next few years.
Our occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists work in schools and other communities venues; dieticians, physiotherapists and occupational therapists work across mental health services; we have employed an experience paramedic to deliver vital training around life support; and our podiatrists provide services wherever they are needed whether a person is able to come to clinic, need a visit to their home or are in hospital. We have recognised the need for seven day access to therapy and are implementing this in areas like hospital wards and in some of our community based teams.
As well as supporting patients and carers, our AHPs also have a role in keeping our NHS staff healthy and well at work.
Last week NHS England launched the national ‘AHPs into Action’ strategy which provides a framework for local services to think about how best to use the skills of the AHP workforce. ‘AHPs into Action’ will help us to look at things differently alongside STPs (sustainability and transformation plans) so we can explore how to share unique skills across traditional organisational boundaries to improve access to our services for those who need it when they need it.