Agents of Change Delivering the Plan – So What?

Agents of Change Delivering the Plan – So What?

by Billy McClean

The Plan

As a proud Allied Health Professional (AHP) and leader in the NHS I regularly share the success stories of AHPs but often hear – “So what?  What’s the impact?  Show us the evidence”.   In June 2012 the National Delivery Plan for AHPs in Scotland was launched with the aim of putting AHPs in the driving seat of delivering change across Health and Social Care locally and nationally.  We know that AHPs make a huge contribution to the Health and Social Care agenda already and with Integration around the corner the action plan positions us to demonstrate that impact at scale.  The opportunities that the plan brings are as exciting as the challenges are daunting.  So what?

Look in the Mirror


The plan holds up a mirror to AHPs as individuals and as teams and asks who are we and who do we want to be.  It allows us to take stock of, and build on the successes, as well as identifying those areas of practice with most potential for growth.  It allows us to consider and map what matters to us as individuals, AHPs, Team Health and Social Care and our wider “communities of purpose” so that we can focus our collective attention on those things that matter most to the people that we serve.  So what?

Change Agents

Once we know what we need to do we can start working out how to deliver.  This doesn’t mean extra work for already stretched staff but a chance to refocus and streamline.  By aligning individuals with the knowledge, skills and passion for the change, with clearly focussed workstreams, and supporting them to develop as agents of change we will unleash a collective and amplified positive power (Whitney et al, 2008).  So what?

Deliver the Plan


The plan is not about

driving an isolated AHP change agenda forwards independent of everyone else. It is a catalyst to AHPs having those conversations that we might not have otherwise had, and contributing to and leading positive change that might not have otherwise happened.  This will require AHPs everywhere to step up and say “yes we can” then make it happen.  So what?

Demonstrate Impact

How do we know that we have achieved what we want to achieve?  Agreeing shared and clear outcomes is the first challenge and is often why we have difficulty demonstrating impact.  What is important to us might not be important to our partners and those we serve.  Without clear, shared outcomes from the start and robust methods to measure and report them how will we know if we have been successful?  How will we answer the “so what” question?

So What?

soSo what if we were to challenge ourselves and those around us to be ambitious?  So what if we were to harness the collective, positive power of AHPs to drive improvements?  So what if we could demonstrate the positive impact for our partners and those we serve?


Whitney D, Trosten-Bloom A, Rader, K (2008).  Appreciative Leadership. McGraw Hill, New York.

Scottish Government (2012) AHPs as agents of change in health and social care.  The National Delivery Plan for the Allied Health Professions in Scotland, 2012-2015.


Billy McClean @billyahpd



  1. Billy,

    An interesting article, thank you.

    There have been so many excellent developments in AHP services.

    Consider some examples such as the expansion of Advanced Practice (MSK), AHP non-medical prescribing, or the use of diagnostic ultrasound by radiographers (sonographers) and indeed some physiotherapists and podiatrists.

    I can cite some illustrative examples from podiatry such as 10 years ago there were estimated to be fewer than 5 podiatrists using corticosteroid injection therapy in Scotland, now there are some NHS Scotland health boards where 20-50% of the podiatrist have been trained to do this. Similarly 10 years ago there were a few isolated areas where podiatrists had limited and hard fought access to x-ray to aid in diagnosis, now there are areas where such access is widespread and considered routine!

    I think its safe to say that AHPs have already proven they can be “agents of change”, but it will be interesting to see how this develops in the next 10 years. As I am sure you will know, NHS Scotland have also produced the ‘2020 vision for the workforce’, I would love to have a crystal ball to see what the AHP workforce would actually look like in 2020 !

    Thanks again, Allan

    1. Allan, I suppose it would be formidable. Unfortunately, I do not see AHPs operated by the NHS. I feel they will be all contracted out to the private sector.

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