National Occupational Therapy in Primary Care Group

The beginning…

Occupational Therapists have been testing the value of working within GP Practices. The NHS AHP Career Fellowship offered an opportunity to continue to develop this work, building on the learning from across Scotland, testing evolving models of care and demonstrating the impact of Occupational Therapy in primary care. The significant importance of support, sharing of good practice and energy from linking with areas where Occupational Therapists were making progress led to discussions around the development of a national group supported by the NES career fellowship. The National Occupational Therapy Primary Care Group was established in Sept 2020.

 “Waiting for others to join…

And they did… month after month… A group of people came together, people with years of experience and a valuable skill set, people who were driven by an eagerness to be relevant and engaged in conversations about services in primary care. People who hoped those services would include Occupational Therapists. For 9 months the aspiration was set to shift a focus towards changing attitudes and place occupational therapists on the primary care landscape. The sessions offered a 2 hour long retreat to deep dive more meaningfully into primary care.

With an ever growing distribution list of around 80 people, ranging from Occupational Therapists, GP`s, Scottish Government advisers, NHS Education Scotland (NES), Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) and research students all set off on a transformational trip, some of which was only disclosed as the conversation unraveled. Attendees typically bonded long before they learned each other’s surnames or job titles.

I acted as hospitality lead with a role that swung between leader and student. This dichotomy infused the groups philosophy, each person understands their worth in the group and is based upon a perfect alchemy of curiosity and wisdom. Curiosity opens up possibilities and wisdom distils what is essential. The group was formed on the premise of helping people strengthen their thinking towards what an Occupational Therapists contribution to primary care is and embrace the call to shift attitudes. As the group emerges from 8 months of conversations about how we address workforce transformation and adopt an appreciative enquiry rather than a fixed mindset with the support of some stand out guests we are left clutching a game-changing diploma in let’s do this…

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships…

Through relationships and conversation the hope is that Occupational Therapists will build relationships earlier with people and no longer be viewed as fringe players in primary care rather more integral in a person’s journey to physical and mental well-being. Despite all the uncertainty, change is in the air and primary care is reframing itself as somewhere where there is collaboration with people at the centre of the decisions around their own well being. The phrase self management is rampant just now and Occupational Therapists have a huge role in creating space for people to figure out how to repurpose themselves. It’s clear the people in the group nourish each other and are set on resetting the compass of primary care, as a profession which has always had its roots firmly embedded in working in partnership with people to live a meaningful life regardless of diagnosis or labels.

From a personal point of view I have come to see ever more clearly the power and the value of human connection…

Author Info:

Aileen Fyfe, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NES AHP Careers Fellow 20/21

Follow Aileen on Twitter @AileenAHPMH

If you want to know more about the AHP Career Fellowship please contact


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