3 minutes with… Alison Raw

Alison Raw has a key role at the Department of Health.She wants physios to play their part in a public health Week of Action


Tell us about your role at the Department of Health

It’s very varied! I am the professional officer for the 12 professions that make up the allied health professions (AHPs).

My role involves advising the ministers and policy teams in the Department of Health (DH) and across other government departments about the significant contribution that AHPs make.

I advocate about the great practice that is happening nationally which is making a difference to people.

For example, the recent legislation amendment that allows physiotherapists to undertake training as independent prescribers was highlighted in the Transforming Primary Care document.

Visit GOV.UK Plans to improve primary care

I work closely with my colleagues in NHS England, Public Health England (PHE) and Health Education England. Close working relationships with professional bodies such as the CSP are fundamental.

I can be presenting at a conference one day and in the House of Commons the next. I enjoy spending time with frontline staff observing great examples of the difference that AHPs can make to people’s lives, there is so much great work going on by AHPs that we need to highlight.

Have you always wanted a national role and what advice would you give to anyone who does?

I trained as an occupational therapist 20 years ago and have worked in various locations throughout the UK, Canada and Australia.

I have worked in a variety of roles across acute, community and local authority settings with individuals across the whole life course. I became interested in national policy when I read law as a postgraduate.

Since then I have been involved in several programme boards at the DH, quality standards advisory committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), and the English board at the College of Occupational Therapists.

I couldn’t do my role without my breadth of experience and you do need a particular skill set to deal with the complexity of a national role.

I would advise physiotherapists interested to just do it! Get involved with NICE, the CSP, the clinical leaders network and the community of practice and build up strong local and national network.

There is a lot going on where physiotherapists can make a difference – get involved.

Do AHPS have a high enough profile? If not how can physio staff help?

AHPs are the third largest workforce in the healthcare system and make a significant contribution to the lives of individuals every day.

The ageing population and the increasing number of people living with long-term conditions mean that there will be an increased demand for health and social care services.

Preventive, community-based services offering personalised rehabilitation is the answer and AHPs are pivotal.

Physiotherapists provide solution-focused cost effective and patient driven outcomes that enable individuals to live their lives.

It is important that physiotherapists highlight with local commissioners, local health and wellbeing boards and the local population the difference that they can make to people’s lives.

The physiotherapy works leaflets from the CSP are a great example of how to influence locally.

What is the AHP public health Week of Action?

The AHP contribution to public health is crucial and varied.

The Week of Action happens from 23 to 27 June and is led by the director of nursing and AHP leads for PHE and DH. It will focus on how all nurses, midwives and AHPs can improve health for individuals, families and communities by promoting health.

This is a chance to raise the profile of how physio staff already contribute to health improvement and any plans we have to do more.

We would like to get as much energy as possible during the week from individual physios, departments and professional bodies highlighting how you are health promoting practitioners.

Discuss with colleagues and add to the tweets, blogs, webinars, posts and articles during the week.

Highlight your service and ideas and let everyone know how AHPs are making a difference to health and wellbeing. Many physiotherapists are already involved in population health; it is time to ensure that everyone knows about it!

Register for a place at a free conference on 1 July in Birmingham

How do you relax?

Having a very active 10-year-old boy, my relaxation time is often spent on the rugby and football sidelines.

We also spend time heading to the hills or to the coast on nature-exploring adventures as he wants to be the next Steve Backshall! fl

Alison Raw is professional officer for allied health professions, Department of Health. Follow @alisonraw and @hindlelinda  #PHPweek

Frontline Staff

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