It’s nearly here: #AHPsDay

The Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for NHS England looks ahead to a very special day:

It started with a twitter conversation in April, and next week we celebrate the first AHPs’ Day on Monday 15 October – a grassroots initiative led by Carrie Biddle, Speech and Language Therapist, and Rachael Brandreth, Dietitian, at Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.

It is a day to understand, recognise and celebrate the fundamental role allied health professionals (AHPs) have in transforming health, care and wellbeing for patients and citizens. As more and more AHPs share their plans for the day it also highlights the creativity and resourcefulness of the AHP community, and the opportunities to connect and engage with the public and colleagues.

Illustrating the potential of AHPs is particularly important as we develop the long term plan for the NHS in England.

AHPs provide services for people across the life course, so we have a crucial role to play in prevention, healthy childhood, maternal health, and integrated care for people with long term conditions and older people with frailty. I have seen so many AHP innovative services addressing these needs though my regional visits over the past year, as well as this year’s Chief AHP Officer’s awards.

Clinical priority areas such as cancer, mental health, cardiovascular disease, respiratory, learning disabilities and autism are core areas of care where many AHPs make a significant difference to people’s lives.

Valuing and promoting our professions is vital for our future workforce across the 14 allied health professions. Attracting young people to careers in healthcare, and the diversity of roles available to them, is crucial to effective health and care services for now and the future. In the run-up to AHPs’ day there will be a week-long student takeover of @WeAHPs led by ‘graduates’ of the Council of Deans for Health #150Leaders programme, helping create a supportive online community for new undergraduate students across the different AHP professions.

Developing rewarding careers and responsive, modern services with effective leadership are crucial to retaining staff in the NHS. AHPs day is also an excellent opportunity to profile the range of careers and opportunities available across the allied health professions.

The national AHP leadership team will be supporting the day, with a range of events and virtual activities:

  • Given they are the social media instigators of this ‘day’, I will be in Cornwall accompanying Carrie Biddle and Rachael Brandreth on visits to local AHP services.
  • Colleagues at NHS Improvement will be live streaming a presentation on twitter at 10am to launch the ‘AHP’s: improving practice and delivering solutions’ case study collection.
  • This will be followed by the second NICE into Action webinar at 12.30pm.
  • The ‘AHPs into Action: supporting people living with and beyond cancer’ conference will take place in London, with live streaming and tweeting from the event.

You can find out about all of this and more using #AHPsDay on twitter; and why not share your plans with us via twitter, the WeCommunities WeBlog or the new AHPs’ Day website – we‘d love to hear about them.

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. Heather Brown says:

    This is fantastic for raising the profile of the Allied Health professions. I have been a senior manager in Radiology and now I am teaching Radiography in the academic sector. The Allied health professions are often overlooked in Healthcare organisations and nursing and medical staff (often due to numbers) do have a stronger representation