Celebrating AHP leadership and improvement

The Chief Allied Health Professions Officer pays tribute to the winners in her second awards ceremony which took place at the Royal College of Physicians in London: 

Over the past year Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) have been at the forefront of implementing the Five Year Forward View, improving services for citizens.

Now, as we move towards delivering more integrated health and care – closer to home and out of hospital – the role of our AHPs has never been more important.

For many people, it is AHPs that can make the biggest difference to their lives. Their expertise is vital to support recovery and rehabilitation. They play an important role in reducing hospital admissions and length of stay, and helping patients to self-manage from the get-go.

We know this expertise needed to make integrated care a success exists within the front line. The Chief Allied Health Professions Officer’s Awards highlight where this is happening and why we need to galvanise the energy of even more AHPs to ensure the best care for patients.

This year’s awards finalists’ included AHPs who are leading innovation for services in acute, community, mental health and education settings, including initiatives that make use of high tech solutions, implement the best available evidence and have found ways to develop the evidence even further.

The ‘Overall Winner’ for the 2018 awards was Marianne Williams, a specialist Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and allergy dietitian working for Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Marianne won the award for her work in introducing diabetic-led, patient-focused webinars to the IBS pathway to further improve self-management in Somerset, and make it easier for patients to access specialist healthcare advice. The initiative provides education directly to patients at a time and location of their choice. GP referrals are not necessary, so GP workload for appointments and administration has been reduced, and it provides them with an alternative to a secondary care referral.

In a survey, 100% of patients said they would recommend the service to a friend and 82% said it improved their understanding and confidence in dealing with their condition. The team are now exploring other ways to use webinar based patient education.

Another example of AHP-led integrated care is Marc Berry, Programme Manager for the Transformation Team at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation. Marc won the Quality Improvement Award for his initiative entitled ‘Early Doors: Can Emergency Care Therapies Help to Prevent Avoidable Admissions in the Emergency Department?’ which aims to reduce avoidable admissions for patients over 65 years at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.

After a series of tests, Marc and his colleagues put therapists at the ‘front door’ of the Emergency Department; offering therapy assessments to patients, working in triage, and checking ambulance in-bound screens to identity patients that they could assess and plan for even before they arrived.

Results have shown a significant rise in the number of same-day discharges per week, along with a reduction in readmissions.

Our other winners on the night included:

AHP Support Worker – supported by Public Health England: Alison Marshall, AHP Assistant, and Cathy Young, Occupational Therapy Assistant, South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust: A reading for wellbeing therapy group.

AHP Leader – supported by Health Education England: Chloe Adams, Community Gastroenterology Dietician, Birmingham Community Nutrition, Birmingham Community NHS Trust: Dietitian led community gastroenterology service.

NICE into Action – supported by NICE: Laura McNeillie, Specialist Respiratory Physiotherapist, Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust: Developing a new pulmonary rehabilitation program tailored for interstitial lung disease.

Crucially our awards are an opportunity to celebrate the contribution of AHPs leading improvement and transformation. But they are also an opportunity to share examples of best practice; something we are focusing on nationally as part of AHPs into Action.

AHPs at all levels have a role to play in this. Be confident, connect with others leading improvement, and grasp that next opportunity to improve care and services for patients and citizens in England. We hope to hear your examples at our awards next year.

For more information on the national framework for the Allied Health Professions go to: AHPs into Action or get updates on Twitter at: #AHPsIntoAction

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *