A year of action

Marking the first anniversary of AHPs into Action, the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer reflects on the significant contribution AHPs are making to improving health and care for patients and communities in England:

As one of the first crowdsourced national policy documents in Europe, AHPs into Action was developed using national policy priorities, best available evidence, and involvement of senior leaders across the system.

Through open crowdsourcing over 16,000 suggestions and contributions were submitted from patients, carers, the public, and health and care staff including AHPs – a people powered plan for change.

It is a resource to inform and inspire leaders and decision makers across the health and care system, and offers a clear view of the potential of AHPs, with over 50 examples of innovative AHP practice and a framework to help develop local delivery plans.

More than a publication, AHPs into Action is a five-year implementation programme led by the AHP leadership team across the four arm’s length bodies of NHS England, NHS improvement, Public Health England and Health Education England.

Supported by a programme board, our implementation objectives are to:

  • Ensure relevant audiences know about AHPs into Action.
  • Influence and enable the use of AHPs into Action at a local level.
  • Deliver a coordinated national programme of work.
  • Strengthen evidence base for AHP roles and services.
  • Evaluate the uptake and impact of AHPs into Action.

To make this happen we have six workstreams to address the priorities and achieve the impacts in AHPs into Action: leadership, digital, evidence into practice, workforce, public health, and partnerships and engagement.

Each of these workstreams involves shared objectives across the four arm’s length bodies, and advice and support from a range of AHPs from around the country. I am immensely proud of this collaboration across the AHP leadership team, working together to strengthen AHP services for the benefit of patients.

AHPs into Action is also a tool to support local change and we are starting to see the development of a number of local and regional AHP strategies.

Last year, Cumbria published the first Sustainability and Transformation Partnership AHP strategy, and South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw is the first Accountable Care System to commence doing the same. In the last 12 months I have visited organisations across England and been heartened to see the local impact AHPs into Action is having as a framework to support local innovation, service improvement and workforce redesign.

AHPs into Action is also about involving and responding to AHPs around the country, and as we start to move into the second year of AHPs into Action we would like to take this opportunity to hear from you:

How have you used AHPs into Action in your service? What impact has AHPs into Action had in your area so far? How do you see AHP leadership developing over the next four years? What’s your vision for AHPs by the end of AHPs into Action in 2021?

You can tweet you thoughts this week using the #AHPsIntoAction hashtag, or contact the team directly via

I look forward to continuing to work with you on AHPs into Action, realising our potential as the third largest health and care workforce, and evidencing the impact we make.

Suzanne Rastrick

Suzanne qualified as an Occupational Therapist from Oxford. Suzanne was the first Allied Health Professional (AHP) to hold a substantive Director of Nursing post in both provider and commissioning organisations. She became the Chief Executive of a Primary Care Trust, where a particular highlight was having leadership responsibility for delivering health resilience and health ‘blue light’ services during the Olympic sailing events held in Dorset in 2012. She subsequently gained authorisation for a large Clinical Commissioning Group, before moving to her current post with NHS England. She was appointed as Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England in September 2014.

In 2017 Suzanne launched the first AHP strategy for England which has been recognised as ground-breaking in policy development from its use of crowdsourcing. Building on this, Suzanne published the second AHP strategy – ‘AHPs Deliver’ in June 2022. This iteration had a greater emphasis on patient, public voice and specifically the inclusion of those who may be digitally excluded along with communities who may find it difficult to connect with traditional consultation methods. The result is a national strategy crowdsourced from diverse populations for people and communities AHPs serve.

For over three decades, Suzanne has held non-executive portfolios outside of the NHS, including audit committee chair roles, predominantly in the housing and charitable sector. Suzanne was recognised as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2019. In 2023 Suzanne was awarded a Visiting Professor role at St George’s, University of London and at Oxford Brookes University.

Follow Suzanne on Twitter/X @SuzanneRastrick or Instagram @chief_ahp_officer_england

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One comment

  1. Rosalie Boyce says:

    I’ve been studying & observing the emergence of “allied health” in Australia & internationally for almost 30 years.

    Looking back I can see clear moments of impact that change the way “allied health” does business and which result in a sea-change for allied health’s contribution to patient/client care and leadership of health services/systems.

    “AHPs into Action” is one of those important moments. Suzanne Rastrick (CAHPO) has provided the exemplary vision & leadership but it is all the practioners, educators, academics, researchers & clients who have energised the momentum that has so successfully started the shift from potential impact into viable change. Looking forward to seeing more outcomes over 2018+.

    Congratulations also to Pete Thormond at CleverTogether whose digital wizardry & commitment to the allied health vision played an important springboard & accelerator role.