Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

By Fiona McQueen Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland

Moving into a new year, never mind a new decade, sends most of us into reflecting on the past as well as thinking about ambitions for the future.  As Scotland’s population ages, continues with the same burden of ill health, and continues to experience health inequalities, the need for an effective system that improves health and improves the delivery of health and social care has never been greater.

So moving into ‘the twenties’ we are moving into a decade where what needs to be done is clear, but how it will be done needs to be shaped more by our imaginations than relying on repeating what we have done in the past.  And I think AHPs in Scotland are well placed to influence and shape how we do things in the future.

Screenshot 2019-12-21 at 08.19.36Over the last decade, we have seen leadership posts developed across our NHS Boards.  Created under the auspices of Jacqui Lunday Johnstone, our first CAHPO, these posts were at times warmly welcomed, and at times hotly contested – often by the profession themselves.  But the foundations that these strategic AHP roles have laid mean that there is a firm foundation for moving forwards into the future.  Looking at how services have changed over the last few years, many have had AHP services at their core.  Whether having OTs and physios at the front door of our acute hospitals, or reporting radiographers ensuring patients have a much prompter diagnosis, or in our communities our S&LT are pushing boundaries in early years and schools to support improvements in communication that are life changing – our AHPs across Scotland are beacons of transformation in care and services.

Screenshot 2019-12-21 at 08.19.46Leadership from the professions is helping to create dialogues at national and local level of just what can be done to improve outcomes with the involvement of AHPs working across boundaries and across agencies.  The Health & Care Staffing  (Scotland) Act is all the richer from the contribution that AHPs made to the development of the legislation; ensuring that the wider multi-disciplinary team – that is essential to look at – rather than individual professions was enshrined within the Act.  The contribution to government priorities of health and social care integration, reduction in waiting times, improving mental health and wellbeing – cannot be achieved without highly functioning innovative multi-disciplinary teams, where our AHPs are often at the forefront of change.  Indeed it was good to see AHPs feature in the first national integrated workforce plan.

Moving into the twenties then – with paths to be trod that have not been trodden, transformative compassionate leadership is as essential now as it ever has been. 

The use of digital, new roles, or just unleashing the potential of our AHPs doing extra ordinary things every day, I think will make all the difference.

Public Health Scotland will come into being in the early part of next year, and a new CAHPO will take up post in January.  In spite of all our uncertainties, one thing is certain, and that is whatever we call the twenties – roaring or otherwise, the people of Scotland will be all the better for the contribution and leadership from our AHPs.

With best wishes for a peaceful festive season and prosperous New Year.


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