Allied health professionals (AHPs) - a category that contains physiotherapists as well as paramedics, radiologists and other careers in the NHS - provide essential services and are valuable experts in their respective fields. However, they are often seen as supplementary and not very important, and this needs to change.
Thankfully, the AHP Federation has published a new plan to do just that. The UK AHP Public Health Strategy 2019-2024 sets out what physiotherapists and similar professionals can do to ensure their expertise is noticed, as well as making sure their skills are constantly developing over the five-year period it covers.
The strategy is based around five key goals. The first of these is to develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours of the AHP workforce. This is followed by demonstrating the contribution AHPs make to overall public health, using both evaluations and research.
Thirdly, the AHP Federation wants to raise the profile of those professionals working in the fields it covers, while its fourth goal is to improve strategic connections and leadership. Finally, it aims to use the expertise of AHPs to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the health and care workforce.
While 15 different professional bodies contributed to the UK AHP Public Health Strategy, it seems it was heavily influenced by physiotherapists. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP) was one of the contributors, and several aspects of the organisation’s work were highlighted for how they helped achieve the previous strategy’s goals.
These included the Love Activity Hate Exercise campaign - in which the CSP aimed to make exercise more accessible and remove some of the barriers preventing people from being more active - as well as the organisation’s efforts to increase patient access to rehabilitation.
Shirley Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “This strategy is ambitious and focuses on the complexities of the social determinants of health and combating health inequalities. AHPs have not shied away from the difficult issues and this development of shared priorities is an exciting and progressive development.”
Written by Matthew Horton
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