Allied Health Professions Day 14th October 2019
Some of you may be aware that there is currently a Health and Sports Committee conducting an inquiry into “what should primary care look like for the next generation”. Whilst this may sound very formal and daunting, it is fundamental that AHPs are at the centre of this conversation.
At the last team meeting before Christmas (sorry to mention that word in October) in my first year as AHP lead, we were asked what our Christmas work wish would be … mine was to never have to say “And AHPs” again and here we are, automatically included.
So how do we help this to become the norm and develop further? This shift has not happened overnight. Before the 2018 GP contract, the perception of primary care services was one of mainly GPs; General Practice staff; Dentists and Optometrists. There is never one reason for a change such as this but I believe that there are some key ingredients:
Relationships – influencing the right people and understanding their interests is key. What matters to an 80 year old living at home, a dietitian or to a Chief Officer may be different but all are of equal importance
Tests of change – good qualitative and quantitative impact data looking at the difference made for patients, the service and the interaction with the wider system and community, is vital.
Collaborative working and leadership – one of the main reasons the musculoskeletal services development has moved so quickly is because areas across the country worked together to demonstrate their impact.
Looking to the future of what could be, this can be hard when we are trying to keep up with the day job. That said, change doesn’t have to be, and arguably shouldn’t be, a sudden wholescale change: “The next big thing is the next small thing”
One thing we have recognised as the primary care team develops, is that we don’t need specialists. We need high quality generalists with specialist skills and knowledge. A physiotherapist may have a specialist knowledge in MSK but equally relevant they may also have a number of years of generalist training, which is invaluable in primary care.
We are starting to see growth in occupational therapists maximising their generalist skills helping people with physical and mental health problems.
So, what could the future look like? If I have a problem with my foot, do I go straight to see a podiatrist? Not necessarily if we continue to build and develop multi-disciplinary teams with extensive generalist skill-sets as well as specialist expertise…however, I am interested to know what your answer would be to “what could the future look like for AHP practice in primary care?”
Jan Beattie; Professional Advisor for Primary Care; Scottish Government