Allied Health Profession
Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are primarily degree-level professionals who work independently in their fields and make up the third-largest workforce of the NHS.
There are 14 professions under the umbrella of AHP, 13 of which are regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Osteopaths are regulated by the General Osteopathic Council (GOC).
AHPs work across the social care, housing, education, and independent and voluntary sectors to assess, treat, diagnose, and discharge patients. They help manage the care of patients throughout their lives, from birth to palliative care, using a holistic healthcare approach. Their focus is on health and well-being prevention and improvement and maximising people's capacity to live full and active lives.
The Allied Health Professions at a glance
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that can help patients address a wide range of challenges, such as emotional, behavioural, or mental health issues, learning or physical disabilities, life-limiting illnesses, neurological conditions, or physical ailments. Art therapy can deliver excellent results for people of all ages, supporting them with their specific difficulties, regardless of any artistic experience. It is a medium of communication and expression rather than a diagnostic technique.
Drama therapists are clinicians and artists who use the performing arts as a therapeutic tool to address many issues, including autism and dementia, as well as physical/sexual abuse and mental illness, leading to psychological, emotional, and social transformations. They work in a variety of settings, including schools, mental health facilities, general health and social care facilities, jails, and the voluntary sector.
Music therapists engage clients in live musical interaction to improve their emotional well-being and communication abilities. This can help develop and promote communication skills, boost individuals’ self-assurance and independence, their ability to concentrate and pay attention, and improve their self-awareness as well as that of others.
Clients who cannot communicate due to disability, illness, or injury are able to benefit from music therapy because their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative, and social needs can be met through musical contact with their therapist.
Podiatrists provide vital assessment, evaluation, and foot care to patients suffering from a range of long-term and acute disorders. Many of these people are in high-risk groups, including those suffering from diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, and peripheral nerve injury.
Many podiatrists have advanced their careers by specialising in biomechanics, often connected with the treatment of sports-related injuries, but with applications for treating youngsters and the elderly, and assisting in surgical procedures. Podiatrists operate in both community and acute care settings. While many are employed by the NHS, a large number work in the commercial sector.
Dietitians are trained health professionals who examine, diagnose, and treat dietary and nutritional disorders based on up-to-date public health and scientific research into food, health, and illness. They provide practical advice to help individuals make healthy lifestyle and eating choices. Work opportunities can be found in a variety of settings, including the NHS, private practice, industry, education, research, sport, the media, public relations, publishing, government, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Occupational therapists (OTs) help people of all ages who are dealing with issues caused by physical, mental, social, or developmental issues. They use a range of therapies to help people improve their ability to care for themselves and others, work, learn, play, and engaging with others. OTs can make a significant positive impact on patient well-being and rehabilitation in most care pathways and the broader public health and social care environment
Operating Department Practitioners
Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) play an important role in the perioperative period. They help prepare equipment and medications for the anesthesiologist, as well as essential surgical equipment and instruments for the surgical team during the procedure. ODPs also assist patients during their stay in the recovery ward, monitoring vital signs and assessing their readiness to return to the main ward. They also ensure effective communication between the surgical team, the operating room, and the rest of the hospital.
The role of the orthoptic practitioner can range from treating premature babies with retinopathy of prematurity and youngsters with impaired vision owing to squinting, to treating adults and children with eye movement disorders caused by diabetes, hypertension, endocrine dysfunction, cancer, trauma, and stroke. They work in health and education in acute hospital and community settings, often as part of a multidisciplinary medical, nursing, and AHP team.
Osteopaths diagnose and treat a wide range of medical issues using a comprehensive approach to the structure and function of the body. Their research is based on the principle of cooperation between an individual's skeleton, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues to preserve health. Osteopaths can restore biological equilibrium by increasing joint mobility, reducing muscular tension, improving blood and nerve supply to tissues, and stimulating an individual's healing mechanisms using a variety of non-invasive treatments such as touch, manual manipulation, stretching, and massage.
Prosthetists and Orthotists
Prosthetists are self-employed registered practitioners who help patients with limb loss and gait analysis, and have an in depth knowledge of mechanics, biomechanics, material science, anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. They design and create prostheses that mimic the structural and functional characteristics of the patient's missing limb.
Orthotists are also self-employed certified practitioners whose role is to analyse gait and design treatments for patients with neuromuscular, muscular, and skeletal system issues. They develop and offer orthoses that alter the structural or functional aspects of a patient's neuromuscular and skeletal systems, allowing them to move around, eliminate gait deviations, reduce falls, reduce pain, and prevent and aid ulcer healing. While they can work independently, they are often members of multidisciplinary teams within the diabetic foot or neuro-rehabilitation team.
Paramedics are the senior ambulance service and healthcare professionals who attend accidents and medical emergencies. They are responsible for assessing the patient's health and administering life-saving treatment, which includes delivering oxygen and medications while deploying high-tech equipment such as defibrillators, spinal and traction splints, and intravenous infusions.
Physiotherapy involves the use of physical methods to promote, preserve, and repair physical, psychological, and social well-being, collaborating with individuals to maximise their functional capacity and potential through cooperation and negotiation. Physiotherapists use advice, treatment, rehabilitation, health promotion, and behavioural change to address impairment problems, activity, and participation and manage recovering, stable, and deteriorating conditions – particularly those involving the neuromuscular, musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. They work with a range of patient groups, from young children to the elderly, in a variety of sectors and locations, including acute, community, and workplace settings.
Speech and Language Therapists
Speech and language therapists (SLTs) help children and adults overcome or adapt to speech, language, communication, and swallowing impairments. Their work can involve assisting young children in gaining access to education, and young offenders to access programmes designed to reduce reoffending. They can play a key role in reducing life-threatening swallowing problems in the early days after a stroke. SLTs also provide essential support to adults with acquired neurological communication difficulties in resuming work and their roles in their families and communities
The role of the diagnostic radiographer is to obtain high-quality images to detect injury or disease, They are responsible for performing safe and accurate imaging examinations, and producing the report that follows. Radiographers are key members of the Breast Screening and Pregnancy Ultrasound Monitoring teams.
The role of the therapeutic radiographer focuses on the treatment of cancer, and includes the planning and delivery of radiation during radiotherapy, which can be used alone or in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy. Therapeutic radiographers oversee the patient's progress through the various stages of radiation, giving care and support to patients during their treatment.
To ensure the safety and efficacy of their profession, the HCPC extensively examines candidates to ensure they satisfy required requirements, including the quality of training courses. To protect the public, the regulator has a variety of objectives, including:
Standard: The HCPC establishes educational, training, and practice standards for respective professionals.
Professional Programmes: The regulator approves the programmes that professionals must finish in order to become registered.
Maintain Records: The HCPC maintains a list of professionals, referred to as registrants, who meet their requirements.
Action: If professionals on the HCPC's Register fail to achieve the required criteria, the HCPC will take appropriate action.
When it comes to the development of standards or recommendations, the HCPC collaborates with a number of stakeholders, including professional bodies, government, employers, trade unions, service users, and the general public.