Scottish government programme includes commitments on allied health professionals workforce planning and a right to rehab

The Scottish government publishes an extensive programme for the coming year with commitments to begin work to establish a right to rehabilitation and to review allied health professionals (AHP) education and workforce planning.

The publication, A Fairer Greener Scotland: Programme for Government 2021-22, covers all aspects of devolved government in Scotland for the coming year. It includes 12 legislative bills, including Covid recovery and a national care service. The programme also includes spending and policy commitments. 

Contained in the health and social care policy section, entitled A Caring Scotland, the Scottish government commits to: 

Establishing a review into the strategic requirements for allied health professionals education, reporting by September 2022, to ensure the required skills mix and expansion to deliver health and social care priorities.

A right to rehab was pledged in the SNP manifesto and this has been incorporated into the government programme, which states:

We agree with the Right to Rehab Coalition that no one should be excluded from support that helps them understand their condition, how to improve it and, most importantly, how to manage it. We are implementing our recovery and rehabilitation framework, which will ensure that by the end of 2025 all adults who require rehabilitation will have timely access to the right services, in the right place. 

We will work with health boards and integration joint boards to eliminate referral and criteria based routes to rehabilitation and move towards "request for assistance" models that ensure no one is excluded from accessing support. We are also working with health, social care, third sector and leisure trusts to ensure there are good quality, easily accessible community based rehabilitation resources available across all sectors.

Spending commitments also pledge an additional £2.5 billion for frontline services, increasing primary care funding by 25% and with half of all frontline health spend invested in community health services.

Commenting on the announcements, Kenryck Lloyd-Jones, CSP public affairs and policy manager for Scotland, said: 

It’s very encouraging that the Scottish government is not delaying in starting work to establish a right to rehab in Scotland and we welcome the approach that is outlined. We have long supported a review of AHP education and closer alignment with workforce planning and look forward to developments.

The funding commitments are also very welcome, particularly in relation to community health services, and it’s essential that physiotherapy and other AHPs in rehab and related services are included in community spending pledges.

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