On the 6th
May the AHPF Board, which included representation from BIOS, was invited to participate in one of the NHS Listening Exercise events with Earl Howe (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality ) and Dr Kathy McLean (leading onClinical Advice and Leadership).
Lesley-Anne Baxter, Chair of BIOS, commented on the meeting: "BIOS had the opportunity to raise issues such as commissioning for a small profession and the difficulties of managing the existing change agenda alongside the radical health care bill. For example, organisations appear to be using QIPP as a cost cutting exercise instead of an opportunity to raise quality and this kind of existing change agenda is having to be juggled alongside the challenges of GP-led commissioning. We also raised the issue of difficulties with not having an AHP voice at national and local level. Other professional groups (such as the Royal College of Nursing) have been invited to participate - but not AHP. This meeting sought to change that and redress the balance."
All of the AHP twelve organisations were represented and had developed a robust message beforehand. They put the case for
AHPs to be present at the decision making tables in their own right
wherever they exist in the new structures formed. The discussion focused on the four areas identified by the Future Forum Listening Team, namely: Choice and Competition
, Public Accountability and Patient Involvement
, Clinical Advice and Leadership
and Education and Training
The NHS Listening Exercise presented a major opportunity for AHPs to be empowered in the future health and social care environment and thus liberated to enhance the quality of patient care in a sustainable way. It gave us a further opportunity to reinforce the message that AHPs need to be positively included in decision making.
The key point made was that given the important role of Allied Health Professionals in so many aspects of care including improving public health and wellbeing, reablement, management of long term conditions, providing integration across health and social care and delivering care within the education and justice contexts, the AHPF believes that the Health and Social Care Bill should be amended to ensure AHPs are represented at all levels in the new NHS structures, on the NHS National Commissioning Board, on the GP Commissioning Consortia and on the Health and Wellbeing Boards.
Earl Howe and Kathy Mclean took on board these points and explored them further especially with regard to what specific models might be helpful in terms of decision making structures.
Examples included the damage being done to services by the ‘salami slice’ approach to saving money, the potential fragmentation caused by Any Qualified Provider (AQP), the need for a national tariff and coding for AHP services to enable appropriate commissioning, the need to enhance and sustain self referral as a way in to the system and the importance of AHPs for patients with communication and other difficulties for whom accessing the system might be challenging.
The NHS Listening Exercise formally finishes on the 31st May but the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill proceeds into the House of Lords for further debate and potential amendment. The AHPF and the individual professional bodies (including BIOS) will continue to engage with the process with intent to influence the final outcome on your behalf. There is still time to get engaged. Contact BIOS , the AHPF or get involved direct.
The NHS Listening Exercise document is available at http://healthandcare.dh.gov.uk/files/2011/04/NHS-Listening-Exercise.doc