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Scottish minister announces £3m for AHP-led independent living programme

19 May 2015 - 5:19pm

Scotland’s allied health professionals (AHPs) will get £3 million to deliver a programme designed to find new ways of helping people who are recovering from illness or injury to stay in their own homes.

Maureen Watt

Maureen Watt said that all too often AHPs are the unsung heroes of our NHS

Three AHP improvement advisers will be appointed to the three-year active and independent living programme, with a remit of making sure that best practice examples are adopted across Scotland.

Maureen Watt, the public health minister, announced the fund to the Scottish parliament on 19 May, when she praised the contribution AHPs make to Scotland’s NHS.

This included that AHPs helped to treat more than 400,000 patients for musculoskeletal (MSK) problems in community settings every year. She cited NHS Lanarkshire’s hospital at home team – of AHPs and other health professionals – which has found ways to treat more patients in their own homes, rather than hospital, when it is safe to do so.

Ms Watt said: ‘All too often AHPs are the unsung heroes of our NHS. There are many examples of innovative ways that they are helping people to live healthier and happier lives in their own homes, without having to be admitted to hospital.

‘Through this new active and independent living programme we will come up with new ways to help them continue that good work, and to fund innovative programmes around Scotland.’

The shadow health minister Jenny Marra welcomed the £3 million fund. But she called for an audit of Scotland’s national delivery plan for AHPs, in particular of self-referral as a primary access route and waiting times for MSK care.

She urged the health minister to reverse the decline in the number of band 7 physiotherapists. Referring to data from the CSP, she said that in 2010 there were 731 whole-time equivalent band 7s in Scotland, but by the end of 2014 their number had declined to 652.

The reduction left the NHS less able to deliver the assessments needed to prevent illness and reduce its costs in the longer term, she said.

For the latest developments see Scottish government agrees to boost numbers of specialist physios

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