AHPs ASPIRE in Forth Valley

Bette Locke Photo July 18Bette Locke, Associate Director of AHPs, NHS Forth Valley (@BetteLockeAHP)

I’m delighted we are using this month #ASPIREinAugust to raise awareness of the great work that Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are undertaking in Forth Valley. There is so much to celebrate although you may not know the full range of developments and improvement work underway.

I have no doubt that within NHS Forth Valley our best assets are the people who work here. We have approximately 550 AHPs across Arts Therapies, Dietetics, Occupational Therapy, Orthoptics, Orthotics, Physiotherapy, Podiatry, Radiography and Speech and Language Therapy.

StrategyASPIRE – why do we need it?

I’m pleased to be able to talk to you about our AHP Strategy (2017-2021) ASPIRE (Allied Health Professions Supporting and Promoting Improvement, Rehabilitation and Enabling Others). I am keen to tell you why we developed it and why I feel it’s helpful for AHPs in Forth Valley.

I know you may be asking why we need a strategy; you may wonder what difference it makes to AHPs and to people who use our services?

I believe it’s so easy for us to focus on the challenges that face us all in the delivery of contemporary health and social care services in Scotland today; we can easily focus on increasing demand and stretched resources. We can – and do – get dispirited, and demotivated. We feel if we had more, things would be better… if only we had more staff, more money, more equipment, more holidays…

The development of our strategy was borne out of a desire to focus on the potential we have in our AHP workforce; to celebrate the developments currently underway and to give permission to AHPs to make improvements within their services. We want AHPs to think about what could be rather than settle for what is.

ASPIRE – what is it?

As AHPs we wanted to demonstrate that we are delivering on national polices and local strategic plans including AHP Active and Independent Living Programme (AILP) and the Lifecurve. We also want to ensure that we are optimising opportunities to work across health and social care and are shaping services to meet future needs. In doing this we want to be able to demonstrate both our contribution and our impact.

We believe ASPIRE provides an opportunity – a framework – that helps us do this. Our four tiered framework is being used to help us describe current AHP service delivery and to consider what future service delivery could look like within each tier.


Enabling Others – a universal approach to sharing knowledge and building capability and capacity in others

Application of Generalist Practice – managing a wide range of clinical presentations using broad professional knowledge and skills across a wide range of settings

Application of Specialist Practice – delivering specialist input to patients with more complex needs

Application of Advanced Practice and beyond – managing the most complex patients, and taking on increasingly skilled work that may have previously been undertaken by medical colleagues.

Delivering ASPIRE 

To support the development and implementation of ASPIRE, several workstreams are in place. These workstreams are:

  • Unscheduled Care
  • Children and Young People
  • Transforming Outpatients, including primary care improvement
  • Mental Health including dementia and vocational rehab
  • Health Improvement
  • Measuring Impact to ensure consistent recording of nationally agreed measures
  • Workforce Planning and Development to ensure staff have skills and competences to work at each tier as appropriate
  • Care Assurance to ensure new ways of working are supporting by professional leadership arrangements and provide assurance about safe and effective practice

Each workstream has a Lead and a clear focus on achievable outcomes with timescales so we can be held to account for implementation.

Final thought…

In developing our AHP Strategy for Forth Valley we felt it was important to use a title that in itself conveyed a sense of what we are trying to emulate. The title is unashamedly positive; we are hoping, aiming, aspiring for something that is better than we currently have.  Not that what we have isn’t good – but I know many AHPs have the drive and ambition to do better. Not more: better.

That aspiration comes hand in hand with the desire to develop a culture of quality improvement, to have quality improvement embedded as core business, not an add-on when we have time, or when we feel like it, or just when we have a good idea. It should be “how we do things around here”.

I believe ASPIRE provides the focus for us to deliver this.  In keeping with the NHS Forth Valley Quality Improvement Strategy, I challenge us all to aspire to do better, to be better every day.



If you’d like to read the strategy in full click here.


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