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AHPs must champion their services

Physiotherapists and other allied health professionals must seize the moment and make sure their voices are heard as the NHS is redeveloped, or risk being sidelined.

So says the new director of the Allied Health Professions Federation, Paul Hitchcock.

Mr Hitchcock is determined to raise the profile of AHPs and ensure they take their place at the centre of discussions on how the NHS moves forward.

He accepted that the AHPF had kept a low profile since its creation as a reaction to the formation of the Health Professions Council. But he said that a combination of moves, such as the Darzi report, to increase the use of primary care within the NHS, and the likely forthcoming squeeze on NHS finances, meant AHPs would have an increasingly important role to play in the NHS.

‘Allied health professionals are well positioned at the moment to make a difference,’ he said.

‘But if we have not got AHPs championing the way they run their budgets, and how they treat their patients, they run the risk of having things taken away from them.

‘Doctors and nurses will automatically be asked for their opinions, and they have a different view of the world

from AHPs.’

Mr Hitchcock, who has worked with AHP societies, the Trades Union Congress, NHS trusts, and in the private sector, said the AHPF will not take over the role of policy expertise held by each member organisation, but it will seek to place itself in a position where those expert views can be heard.

He warned that, however keen the Department of Health might be to sit down with AHP organisations, it was generally much keener to deal with one body.

Mr Hitchcock said that although the CSP is the largest of the 12 professions represented by the AHPF,  its umbrella approach will ensure that the voice of the physiotherapy profession is heard in all discussions involving AHPs.

More about the AHPF

The Allied Health Professions Federation has 12 member organisations:

  • Association of Professional Music Therapists
  • British Association of Dramatherapists
  • British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists
  • British Dietetic Association
  • British and Irish Orthoptic Society
  • British Association/College of Occupational Therapists
  • British Association of Art Therapists
  • Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
  • College of Paramedics
  • Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
  • Society and College of Radiographers
  • Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists 

All are regulated by the Health Professions Council and are fully autonomous. The AHPF board meets six times a year to determine strategy and ensure governance.The board comprises the chief executive officers and the chairs of Council for each of the organisations.

The AHPF is currently or has recently been involved with:

  • development of the AHP Professional Advisory Board for England
  • the development of the NICE quality guidelines for patient pathways
  • DH leadership initiatives including the chief health professions’ officer leadership conference
  • transforming community services and commissioning
  • lobbying on the benchmark prices review for health care education in England.

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