The Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are made up of 14 separate professions, making up the third-largest workforce in the NHS1. The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust (RWT) employs nine of the AHP groups (Chiropodists/podiatrists, Dietitians, Occupational therapists, Operating Department Practitioners, Orthoptists, Physiotherapists, Prosthetists and Orthotists, Radiographers, Speech and language therapists) totalling almost 600 members of staff. Although AHPs are allied to one another they are separate and diverse professions requiring a range of skills and providing a diverse range of opportunities.
Recent years have seen the emergence of Advanced Clinical Practitioners (ACPs), First Contact practitioners (FCPs), and Consultant AHP positions. This realisation and development of the AHP workforce are essential in ensuring we reach our full potential and contribute to the NHS’ Long Term Plan2. Alongside these traditional roles, and the recent advanced clinical roles, RWT also have several AHPs in non-traditional roles which emphasises the range of transferable skills AHPs have.
Sam McIntosh – One Wolverhampton Programme Manager
Sam is a Physiotherapist by background but currently holds the position of One Wolverhampton, Programme Manager, with Sam’s substantive role being Head of Capacity & Flow. Sam has been working across organisational boundaries in a variety of roles for several years and the opportunity to be involved in the Place-Based Partnership in Wolverhampton was too good to be missed. The Health & Social Care Act 20223 has now gone through Parliament and is the legislation behind the Integrated Care System, of which One Wolverhampton Place-Based Partnership is part. Sam’s role includes overseeing and developing workstreams with partners including joining up care pathways across the health, social care and voluntary sector and building relationships with communities. Sam currently supports the associated digital innovation work enabling visibility of key patient information at the right time enabling a smooth transition of care between services for the patient, and achieving the best outcomes for them, safety, quality, and effectiveness are consistently at the centre of all Sam does. Having an AHP in a program management role brings a forward-thinking, patient-driven, and integrated approach which is crucial.
Nicky Eddison – AHP Research Lead
Nicky is a consultant orthotist and Associate Professor but is currently the Trust’s AHP research lead. Having completed a PhD whilst working in a clinical and service management role, Nicky was keen to focus on research. The publication of the Health Education England’s Allied Health Professions Research and Innovation strategy4 in January 2022 was a catalyst for trialling a new AHP research lead post to which Nicky is currently seconded. The role involves exploring the barriers and enablers of a research ready AHP workforce, actively conducting research in collaboration with Staffordshire University and being a research role model for our AHP workforce. Nicky currently co-leads the Trust’s Community of Research Practice seminars and is actively working on a wide range of research projects including public health descriptors for AHPs, Finite element analysis for orthotic devices, workforce planning, telehealth, the representation of AHPs in senior roles, scoliosis management, the requirements for a 21st-century AHP workforce and a review of research pertaining to orthotic devices for children with cerebral palsy. Having an AHP in a lead research role in a hospital setting brings a modernised approach to careers in clinical and healthcare research, which is critical5.
Keith Wilshere – Group Company Secretary
Keith is an occupational therapist by background. He has had a variety of clinical, clinical leadership and latterly professional leadership roles including the lead Allied Healthcare Professional for the East Midlands and part of the national AHPs’ Leaders Group in the 1990s. He gained his MSc in the 90s, including research into role choice and clinical decision-making by occupational therapists. He then moved into predominantly general management and corporate roles, heading up Clinical and Corporate Governance elements in several organisations alongside continuing his AHP lead role. He retired early for family reasons in 2014, trained to undertake Trust/Company Secretary roles and returned gradually, undertaking a wide variety of related interim part-time roles. He ended up in a part-time interim role at RWT in 2017 and hasn’t left yet – but has been made substantive and full-time – so much for retirement!
He was recently appointed to Group Company Secretary across Walsall and Wolverhampton Trusts. He monitors the inclusion and profile of AHPs at the Trust Boards and supports the professional group and leads with student experience shadowing opportunities. His most recent clinical practice was working with adults with learning disabilities in the community. He has found considerable cross-over and transferability of skills, knowledge and learning from his clinical training and practice and his current role, particularly skills around relationships and negotiation. He has developed his interests and learning across a wide variety of issues and opportunities from legislation interpretation to advanced healthcare systems, the use of technology and the potential of Artificial Intelligence systems as well as deepening his appreciation of human vulnerability and human interactions. He explores day-to-day the balance of technological and human systems and interactions. Above all, he has come to value and prize genuineness, openness, kindness and honesty in others and he strives to improve every day and knowingly falls short but enjoys the trying!
The diverse roles held by AHPs at RWT highlight the plethora of transferrable skills AHPs have. AHPs add immense value, not only in terms of clinical skills which service users benefit from but also in the transferable skills that make them ideal candidates to thrive in a variety of roles and benefit the system and population. Skills include communication, leadership, teamwork, organisational skills, problem-solving skills, analytical skills, cross-organisational working, emotional intelligence, working under pressure, and time management, to name a few. There are a range of roles suited to the skillset of AHPs. It’s great to see our AHP workforce starting to step forward and expand their vision of how and where AHPs can thrive!
- NHS England. Allied Health Professions into Action.; 2017. https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/ahp-action-transform-hlth.pdf
- The NHS Long Term Plan. Published Online First.; 2019. https://www.longtermplan.nhs.uk/
- Health and Care Act 2022 – Parliamentary Bills – UK Parliament. Accessed May 12, 2022. https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3022
- Health Education England. Allied Health Professions ’ Research and Innovation Strategy for England.; 2022. https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/allied-health-professions/enable-workforce/allied-health-professions’-research-innovation-strategy-england
- Health Education England. Clinical Academic Careers Framework: A framework for optimising clinical academic careers across healthcare professions HEE Clinical Academic Careers Framework Background and Context. 2018;(February). http://www.nihrtcc.nhs.uk/intetacatrain/copy_of_Medically_and_Dentallyqualified_Academic_Staff_Report.pdf