Suzanne Rastrick: Allied Health Professionals into Action

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  • Posted:Friday 15 September 2017

Speaking at The King's Fund event on harnessing the value of allied health professionals on 6 September 2017, Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professional Officer, NHS England, discusses NHS England's AHPs into Action report and the work that has been done since its publication to implement it.


Whether we are in a very rurally dispersed and deprived area, or indeed in a very metropolitan area, the challenges for practitioners here and indeed people commissioning our services are largely the same.  We strive to fulfil the objectives of our populations and our families and people we know, and that really for me is absolutely what Allied Health Professionals are about.  Without stealing the thunder of my colleagues now, I’m just going to quickly canter through some of the things that are key in each of the arm’s length bodies at the moment.  But in NHS improvement these are key areas of action for AHPs’ interaction.  So you will see they’re around workforce, the urgent and emergency care piece, professional leadership, and the final one is around AHP operational productivity.  

I’ve been in post now almost three years and when I stood up at an event virtually it was in this room about rehabilitation three years ago, I asked practitioners how many people saw themselves as public health practitioners, and barely a hand went up in the room.  But if I said that to you today, probably the majority of you would put your hands up.  And then finally in terms of Health Education England we now have degree apprenticeships being worked up in most of the professions that I represent and also as you see here at level seven in advanced practice.  We also have an increasing body within HEE of AHP expertise.  In terms of STPs, we talked about those things which are really important to citizens and what I’ve got here are a series of the case studies.  So this actually is from the Stafford Stoke on Trent STP plan which is that left hand document, and the challenges in the centre are things which are key challenges for their population, cancer, mental health, frail and elderly, smoking and obesity.  And I guess if I put that to any of you in any part of the country that probably would be pretty much the same.  

So interestingly one of the case studies eleven in AHPs Into Action is actually indeed a dietetic led programme from dietician colleagues in Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Partnership NHS Trust, and it absolutely bears down on that bottom right hand obesity issue.  So this is another example, and this is actually from Humber Coast and Vale STP, so this is the top left.  And they’ve identified challenge which are predominantly in those blue squares.  And although from that they’ve then distilled six priorities which are helping people stay well, place based care, creating best hospital care, supporting people with mental health problems, helping people through cancer and strategic commissioning.  And what I’ve done is I’ve chosen two case studies there that although they’re not of that geography, they are within the AHPs Into Action document and actually speak exactly to the problems of the STP.  So the first case study 17 is from Neil Langridge who’s a consultant physiotherapist in Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, and that absolutely speaks to those 27% in the bottom left of people seen by GPs who could have had their issue resolved in another way.  

In the second one, Rachel is an occupational therapist and Gail is a paramedic from East Lancashire NHS Trust and North West Ambulance Service, and it’s about this particular case study at the bottom, and that really speaks to the top right 40% of A&E patients who require no treatment, and that middle blue box with the 25 to 50% of hospital beds used by people who don’t need them.  And they have some absolutely fantastic results to speak about which we were really proud to include in our launch with Sir Bruce Keogh present.  So I think it’s thinking about some of those case studies and things that you’re doing locally that then could be offered to the STP and as I always say a how can I help you sort of way.  

The other thing I wanted to touch on was the Chief Allied Health Profession Officer awards which we launched for the first time this year.  And I’m really delighted that the winners of those awards were from across all of our sectors.  So it wasn’t just from the NHS, it was from social care, but also from the third sector too.  And then it brings me on to my AHP of the year Dr Nick Woznitza who’s looking suitably embarrassed at this juncture.  Nick was the winner of the practice innovator award and was judged the overall winner as AHP of the year.  And although there are increasing numbers of reporting radiographers, Nick’s work encapsulated in the award of his recent PHD, demonstrates the absolute impact that AHPs can have in advance practice to increase capacity, streamline pathways and above all from my point of view contribute to the patient experience, and that’s absolutely fundamental.  So well done again Nick.

These are some of the things that are already at the centre, across the arm’s length bodies that we’re putting in place.  We’re setting up a programme board which actually oversees the implementation of AHPs’ interaction across England and co-ordinates that.  We’re establishing a leadership network via the repository of a database we have in NHS improvement.  We need to make sure that we’ve got connections with AHP leaders in NHS organisations across regions, and we really want to hear from colleagues in the regional areas who aren’t part of the NHS family, who want to engage with that.  So particularly from social care and third sector organisations who are also providing services to our citizens and including housing colleagues etc.

And then the other things are really enablers that we’re actually getting on with and actually beginning to do, and will be bringing to you in the course of the next year.