A message from our CAHPO…

Carolyn McDonald, our Chief Allied Health Professions office as part of #AHPsDayScot, was asked to reflect on the last six months and to answer the following questions. 2020 has been a unique year shall we say, but the AHP light has shone brightly even if in ways and places we hadn’t expected.


What about the AHP role and impact do you think should be celebrated and how can we draw attention to our work going forward?

In my role at the Scottish Government one of my responsibilities is to raise our profile and ensure that we are represented across all sectors so that our contribution can be realised and our voice heard.

AHPs collectively make up the third largest part of the health workforce in Scotland. Our work on the frontline in hospitals, in the community and primary care,  discharging patients from hospital, or keeping people at home, our role across physical and mental health and across all ages is to be celebrated. National AHP Day is one such platform to do this and share what we do with a wide audience.

Not everyone knows who the AHPs are, but ask anyone and the chances of them having come into contact with any one of our professions is very high. Sometimes it is frustrating that we do not get the same recognition as some of our colleagues for the work we do across health and social care so we need to step up and self-advocate.

The AHP Compendium virtually published this week is a collaboration between AHP Federation Scotland, AHP Directors Scotland Group, NHS NES and @AHPScot and is a fantastic celebration and snapshot across our professions on the impact made to peoples’ lives. It will be live on AHP Federation Scotland web site over the next few days. It has been published here . I encourage you to share it widely.

What do you appreciate about your role as CAHPO that perhaps you weren’t aware of before coming in to post?

I only was inside St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh for 10 weeks before Covid-19 arrived and we were all directed to work from home so I do not have a lot to go on from working within the  government walls for long but I have learned a lot in an extremely short time

When I was appointed into the role of CAHPO I was humbled and honoured and to  this day I remain so. I am in an extremely privileged position to be able to provide expert professional advice to Scottish Ministers, the Director General for Health and Social Care, the Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Medical Officer and National Clinical Director on all aspects of policy which impact AHPs.

I have great admiration for my policy colleagues who work tirelessly to develop and support policy and ensure the effective running of government. The daily press briefings throughout the pandemic and answering the broad range of questions that come into government amongst other things has given me a newfound understanding and huge appreciation of the breadth of work that they do largely unknown and appreciated by those working on the front line.

“Who or what has inspired you over the last six months and how can AHPs inspire others to think differently and transform care?”

The determination and resilience of AHPs in Scotland to transition into new ways of working at an astonishing pace and for some redeployment into new roles has been monumental and truly inspiring. Previous barriers to transforming change were bulldozed down in a matter of weeks. Some staff did refresher training and moved roles very quickly into teams that were not their normal place to be.

Our returners and AHP students have been a vital part of our workforce and we owe it to our students to facilitate their learning in the clinical environments as they are our workforce of the future. I am encouraged and excited by the alternatives to practice based learning that are coming to the fore. Please inspire others by sharing your ideas widely to ensure we meet their needs.

A light has been shone on mental health and wellbeing. The AHP contribution to this area is significant as is our contribution to public health and prehabilitation and I am looking forward to hearing more about how services are transforming so that AHPs are visible and proactive in these areas to support our population.

I was thrilled this week to see Professor Ian Welsh OBE, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland tweet saying that “AHPs are the shock troops of integration reaching parts other professionals can’t”. AHPs are fantastic community connectors and our relationship with the third sector is there to be strengthened as we deliver on the Recovery and Rehabilitation Framework. And how we can collectively transform care.

“What connections do you think are vital for AHPs now and in the future and how should be capitalise on these for optimal gains?”

AHPs are members of multidisciplinary and oftentimes multiagency teams and the importance of connections and belonging are as important as they have ever been.

There has been wonderful collaboration across a range of sectors and teams throughout the pandemic. For me in my role as Chief Allied Health Professions Officer this was really crucial in the development of the Framework for Supporting People Through Recovery and Rehabilitation During and After the Covid-19 Pandemic I collaborated with a range of teams from different Directorates within Scottish Government as well as with a variety of stakeholders externally. Because of the lockdown restrictions and working for home this was developed with people whom I have never met – a great example of the role of digital solutions.

There has been and will continue to be collaboration with all key AHP stakeholders from Scottish Government, NHS Boards, educators, professional bodies so that we can all share in the same vision for AHPs in Scotland and support those who require our services. In particular I have worked very closely with my colleagues in the other nations – England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We have had excellent links and swift dialogue with our Regulators – the Health and Care Professions Council and with the Council of Deans of Health – the organisation that represents the UKs university faculties engaged in education and research for nurses, midwives and AHPs. We issued joint statements early on regarding returnees to the HCPC register and supporting and enabling student AHPs to respond to the pandemic. A joint CAHPO statement on rehabilitation followed.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes things will emerge renewed and reborn. The fog will lift and AHPs will do what we do best – we will connect, inspire, appreciate and celebrate.

Have a terrific National AHPs Day!

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