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AHPs Day blog

AHPs Day blog


Steve Jamieson, Chief Executive, College of Podiatry

Today is AHPs day, when we recognize the contribution of all 14 allied health professions to the UK’s health services.

This is an issue I feel strongly about, both as a nurse by background and now as an ‘honorary podiatrist’. I have seen throughout my career the impact that AHPs have, as part of the wider family of health and care professionals, on people’s health and wellbeing and on improving patient outcomes. 

Podiatry is an interesting case among the allied health professions. As a profession we span NHS and independent practice, with many of our members working across both settings. Podiatrists are often the interface between different parts of the health system. Independent podiatrists in all parts of the UK are liaising every day with colleagues in the NHS – referring to GPs, and liaising with podiatry services in community and acute settings. 

I think it’s this unique position that gives us such a good vantage point for looking at some of the ways in which AHPs fit into the bigger picture of protecting the UK’s health. 

Each AHP has particular skills and expertise to share, and we all have important stories to tell. Most importantly, for our patients, we each have an essential role to play. As AHPs we have an increasingly important role in the care of people throughout their lives, for example for the growing numbers of people living with long term conditions, and in clinical priority areas such as diabetes and cancer. As the long-term plan for the next phase of the NHS takes shape, AHPs are and will be more important than ever. 

Unfortunately, we also have shared challenges, such as in securing the workforce our professions need to ensure high quality patient care into the future. So, aside from recognizing one another’s contributions to patient care, it is important that we work together to ensure we can continue to play our important roles in the wider health system. 

As a profession, we in Podiatry are embracing that sense of teamwork and shared endeavor. A good example of this is the College’s leadership role within the Strategic Interventions in Health Education Disciplines (SIHED) programme. SIHED is a three-year, £3m programme supported by the Office for Students, to help podiatry and three other health disciplines – orthoptics, therapeutic radiography, and prosthetics and orthotics – to recruit and retain undergraduate students and help ensure a sustainable workforce to meet future health needs. 

A major strand of the programme is the recent launch of a digital marketing campaign to promote the four professions to young people making their career choices. It is called #ISeeTheDIfference and reflects the impact that these health professions have on patients 

Today, the College of Podiatry is hosting an engagement event with our SIHED partners where we will be sharing news on the reach and engagement so far of our digital recruitment campaign, as well as looking at ways we can communicate and collaborate more. We will be hearing about work in universities to improve retention of podiatry and radiography students, supported by the £225,000 challenge fund announced earlier this year. And we will be addressing other shared challenges, such as how we appeal to mature students and encourage them sign up to study one of the allied health professions. 

In the spirit of partnership, I’m looking forward to today’s event, at which we come together with fellow AHPs to roll up our sleeves and jointly tackle challenges. For podiatrists, that could mean saving someone’s foot from amputation or helping them to move freely without pain. For an orthoptist it means helping people to gain better control of their eyes and enjoy improved sight. Therapeutic radiographers are at the front line of treatment in about 40% of cancer cases. And prosthetists and orthotists support the mobility of people including those with missing limbs.

In order to help address wider issues challenging the podiatry workforce, the College is also leading on work supported by Health Education England to ensure the sustainability of the podiatry workforce, including career progression pathways, curriculum development and work to raise the profile of the profession with the public and wider health system. 

It is very easy to focus only on our own professions, but while our skills and expertise are distinct, it is only by working to together we deliver the best outcomes for our patients. For now though it is fitting to celebrate the many ways in which we and our partner AHPs touch on patients’ lives and well-being.

I think these achievements are definitely worth celebrating on this first UK AHPs day. I would encourage all our members to take part in the day, in workplaces or on social media, and help show the difference podiatrists, as AHPs, are making to patients today and every day…