Paramedics, physiotherapists and other Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) play a pivotal role in patients’ care and in helping to deliver our NHS Long Term Plan

The Allied Health Professions – for example paramedics, physios and speech therapists – are some of the most rewarding careers available, so it was great to hear the government demonstrate such a strong commitment to the AHP community by providing additional financial support.

In December 2019 the government announced that, from academic year 2020/21, many new and continuing student AHPs, nurses and midwives would receive a new financial support package to help with living costs.

Healthcare students in these disciplines on eligible pre-registration undergraduate and postgraduate courses at English universities, will benefit from an annual maintenance grant of at least £5,000 in the 2020/21 academic year, with up to £3,000 additional funding for students in certain areas, specialisms or with childcare responsibilities.

The government also confirmed that, for the first time, paramedic science students will be able to benefit from additional NHS funding whilst at university, recognising how important they are to be delivering the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan in a wider variety of clinical settings.

The government had previously advised that additional payments of up to £3,000 will be available for students in areas which are struggling to recruit, or to help students with childcare costs.

They have now confirmed there will be an additional £1,000 per academic year for students with childcare responsibilities and another £1,000 a year for new students on one of these pre-registration degree courses:

  • Mental health nursing
  • Learning disability nursing
  • Radiography (diagnostic and therapeutic)
  • Prosthetics and orthotics
  • Orthoptics
  • Podiatry

It’s great to see the government taking these grants seriously and targeting the funding support where it is particularly needed.

Students studying the following pre-registration allied health degree level courses are set to benefit from the funding:

  • Dietetics
  • Occupational therapy
  • Operating department practitioner
  • Orthoptics
  • Orthotics and prosthetics
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry
  • Diagnostic radiography
  • Therapeutic radiography
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Paramedicine

This funding will support ambitions to grow the AHP workforce that we have been developing as part of implementing the interim NHS People Plan, to meet the future requirements of health and care set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.

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


  1. Sally says:

    Can I ask will there be any reimbursements for students studying between 2017-2020? As a third year physiotherapy student I have paid over £9000 a year… sandwiched in-between fully funded courses and the new financial support funds.

  2. Dawn Stewart says:

    worrying teenage mental health and the long waiting lists for people to see a psychologist, obviously hasn’t made an impact, as those in training for this role are not entitled to the £5k. Such a shame, and a huge deterrent to those who want to make a difference. #psychology

  3. Cath says:

    This is great news to help attract to the professions where there difficulty recruiting. Shame it’s not medical students too with the NHS holding so many Doctors vacancies.
    How will this payment be made? Is it a one off? Do students apply?

  4. Karen Smith says:

    Are student osteopaths included?

  5. Laura Bunce says:

    Hello, I am a first year pre-registration masters physio student. Most articles suggest that the bursary will be for eligible undergraduate students, but is there any insight as to whether masters students such as myself would also benefit from the bursary?

  6. DB says:

    Are you going to address the fact that ODP’s have only been awarded this grant for level 5 courses? Despite the fact that most training provision (and the future) being at level 6 and level 5 being phased out. It certainly doesn’t reflect the direction the profession is going in. It will be detrimental to level 6 qualified ODP’s entering the profession.

  7. Jessica says:

    Please can you let me know how this will help the people who did not receive the nhs bursary and have had to survive on student finance alone for the past two years! I will finish my masters in OT in January 2021 so will I qualify for this or not? It seems very unfair if my year group do not get refunded this support as the NHS has done nothing to support us through our degree even though I have been working for the NHS for 3 years before applying for my masters and been working long shifts as a HCA for NHS professionals alongside my full time 2 year masters just in order to have money to survive.

  8. Rachel says:

    What about medical students who will accrue £70k+ debt over 5 years training and are in wards weekly providing care for free? If you want to retain staff, show that you value them . I am bankrolling my son through medical school, others aren’t so fortunate. Part time extra work impossible with their timetable