A cross-party group of MPs has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament urging the government to consider a law change, to allow for greater diversity of leadership at the top of the NHS.

Proposer of the motion Norman Lamb MP (Lib Dem) said; “Not many people will be aware that in many hospitals up and down the land today, skilled professionals who are not doctors or nurses, known as Allied Health Professionals (AHPs), are effectively banned from being Executive Clinical Directors on Trust Boards. If we want more creative thinking, and the voices of physios, OTs, radiographers and many other therapists to be heard in NHS boardrooms, then we need a law change. The current rules are holding us back.”

As it stands, AHPs, such as Orthoptists, are effectively excluded form many of the most senior roles in the NHS, as legislation means that Medical Directors are required to have medical qualifications and Nursing Directors have nursing qualifications. While there may be some AHPs who are also Board Directors, historically these are often subsidiary to nursing directors.

There are 158,000 AHPs in the NHS, making them the third largest sector. A change in the law would allow them to be represented at the highest levels, increasing the range of skills and experience available to the NHS.

The EDM shares the view of the Allied Health Professionals Federation (AHPF), of which BIOS is a member, which believes that a greater diversity of talent in leadership posts can lead to improved outcomes for patients.

Parmjit Dhanda, Chair of the AHPF said: “We’re delighted that MPs have laid this motion before the House today and recognised the importance of AHPs in senior NHS roles. It is a reminder that our health service values all of its workforce. Doctors and nurses are crucial, but diversity of skills delivers better services. This motion reminds us all of the benefits that could be gained if a wider group of skilled professionals were allowed to take up Medical and/or Nursing Director roles on Foundation Trusts. But it does require the lifting of a legal restriction by the government.”

If you are interested in finding out more:

  • Read the EDM here.

  • ‘Clinical leadership – a framework’ highlights the barriers preventing many clinicians reaching the most senior levels. Read more here.