Allied health professional support workers must get equitable access to consistent and sustainable funding for education and professional development opportunities to support safe and effective patient care, warned a 14-strong coalition of organisations today.

Allied health professional (AHP) support workers continue to be a crucial part of the pandemic response, yet many report feeling invisible, with their knowledge, skills and experience being underused.

The coalition warns that healthcare services are failing to use the knowledge, skills and experience of allied health professional support workers in a planned and strategic way, undermining efforts to meet the demands of a growing population and adapt to changing patient needs.

Professional bodies and trade unions representing AHP support workers issued a joint statement today calling for employers, policy makers and workforce planners in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to take urgent action to address the unacceptable inconsistencies in education and development opportunities for the AHP support workforce.

The statement is signed jointly by the British Association of Art Therapists, the British Association of Drama Therapists, the British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists, the British Dietetic Association, the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, the CSP, the College of Operating Department Practitioners, the College of Paramedics, the College of Podiatry, the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the Society of Radiographers and Unison.

The statement calls for UK-wide career development and progression frameworks for AHP support workers, with universal access to funding for training. It also calls for the inclusion of AHP support workers in workforce development planning.

While they welcomed the recently published Health Education England (HEE) training and career development framework for AHP support workers, they insist more must be done.

Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Chief Executive Karen Middleton says, ‘‘The talents of allied health professional support workers are being squandered across the sector when they should be nurtured, with far too many finding their careers are stalling because they’re undervalued and overlooked.

“The pandemic has created unprecedented levels of need in healthcare, and the skills of our support workers could help ease the pressure across the whole system.

“While the HEE framework is a welcome a response to our calls for their contribution to be properly recognised, there has to be an equity of opportunities across the UK.

“Urgent action needs to be taken to ensure all allied health professional support workers receive due recognition and reward for the critical contribution they make to healthcare, wherever they work.”

See the statement here.

If you are interested in finding out more:

  • Read the full statement here.

  • Find out more about BIOS’s work developing our non-registered workforce here.