Who Would Have Believed It? Looking Back to Look Forwards…

Fiona McQueen

Chief Nursing Officer

pictoral-planIt’s been quite a year; and whilst the observers of human nature have noticed significant shifts in our society- the Brexit vote and American presidential campaign and election have reinforced that we most certainly do live in different times.  Why then does much of the rhythm of health and social care delivery feel as though it’s dictated by a beat from the old world?  With a lot of health delivery being delivered in similar ways to that when our beloved NHS was created.  Visit to GP, referral to Consultant at the hospital….. and you know the rest of the story.  However 2016 has seen what could be one of the biggest changes in the delivery of our health system: the creation of Integrated Joint Boards and the partnership between health and social care.

agents-of-changeWhen I look forwards to 2017 and see the opportunities for improving health and well-being that we have, the much (and perhaps over) used saying, ‘be the change you want to see’ comes to mind.  I do know about many of the ‘blow you away’ developments that our health and social care system has seen, in a general sense, and in particular by what AHPs are doing across Scotland.  But I also sense the frustration from AHPs who know the difference they can make – if only the system could transform and be responsive to people’s needs, the professions can do the rest.

speech-therapyWhether it’s Speech & Language Therapists delivering support for young people that will reduce offending and mental health problems, or Occupational Therapists delivering palliative care that supports improved outcomes; AHPs have much to contribute and I’m not sure catalyst-forI’ve seen an environment as ripe for change as we have now.  Realistic Medicine, the National Clinical Strategy, and now the recently published health and social care delivery plan are real and material opportunities to deliver better patient care and better population health; and AHPs must be a catalyst for supporting an increase in the pace of change and also the change itself.

However, the professions must cast a critical eye over themselves.  I regularly hear AHPs saying – nobody listens, we’re always left out.  Well, this is a moment in time, I believe, for real professional leadership; and that means working in strategic partnerships to create the conditions for change and demonstrating the real and material difference AHPs can make to care delivery and improving outcomes.  Whether it’s asready-to-act the first point of contact for people in primary care, or as part of that wider multi-disciplinary, multi-agency team.  It’s not of course just about asking for additional investment (although that at times is necessary).  The economic context of where our country is has to be understood and considered.  Therefore the skills of leaders and managers of services are critical in being able to understand how their organisations work, develop effective team working and make a comprehensive contribution to the business planning process of that organisation.   From a policy perspective, I know those of you involved in children and young people’s services will be delivering on the commitments of ‘Ready to Act’, that was launched at the beginning of the year, and next year will see the launch of the Active & Independent Living Improvement Programme which will build on the AHP delivery plan.

When reflecting on some of the key challenges we have in delivering excellent health and social care, and improving population health, the difference that AHPs can make can be astounding and really touch people’s lives and improve outcomes.  Whilst I know that AHPs can make a real and material difference to care delivery, my hope in going forwards into the New Year is that people will say ‘who would have believed it’,  when they see the dramatic difference that AHPs make to transforming services and improving people’s lives



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