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You know what nurses do, and you’re an expert on doctors – but did you know that the Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS? Allied Health Professionals are graduates who work as professionally autonomous practitioners, regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and working in one of fourteen different positions.

This page provides the headline information on Allied Health professions, before offering a step-by-step guide on what you need to do. Don’t forget to use all the subpages to make the most of the section.

Find out more about Allied Health roles on the NHS Health Careers website below.

Find out more on NHS Health Careers site

What Do Allied Health Professionals Do?

AHPs are highly-qualified health professionals who work independently to provide care to a wide variety of people. They assess, diagnose, treat, and discharge patients in acute hospitals, communities and social care settings.

They may also work in the housing, education, or independent and voluntary sectors.  As their varied job description suggests, Allied Health Professionals look at the whole person and manage patients’ care from birth to the end of life. 

In the video below, The Medic Portal speaks to Gill Rawlinson, National AHP Clinical Fellow at Health Education England, about Allied Health Professions.

Allied Health Professionals in Acute Settings

As part of their role, Allied Health Professionals may be providing care in the high-paced acute sector – from dealing with trauma on the day of injury, to helping people integrate and function on their own communities many months or years later.

They also provide cutting edge treatments, be they therapeutic radiographers delivering complex radiotherapy programmes to cancer patients, or occupational therapists and physiotherapists using virtual reality to help someone walk or function again.

Allied Health Professionals in the Community

Every AHP plays a huge role in supporting community healthcare. They are often the most suitable and best-placed medical staff for providing care close to people’s homes. They are crucial in the promotion of good health practices, and can often change people’s lives in a way hospital staff cannot.

Orthoptists, for example, screen for visual impairments in children, and care for their eyesight before it deteriorates enough for them to need admitting to hospital.

AHPs also care for our increasingly ageing population, preventing problems associated with growing old, and caring for those who are frail or at risk from issues such as falling.

They can also provide support and rehabilitation to those who have experienced strokes or other neurological problems – in addition to those suffering with lung diseases, or undergoing rehabilitation after accidents. AHPs support individuals, helping them return home, and reducing reliance on hospitals.

Advanced Careers

Many AHP professions allow you to gain further qualifications, allowing you to progress to advanced roles and eventually become a consultant. These include qualifications to prescribe medicine and to take on the advanced management of complex patients. Roles involving these tasks include consultant podiatrists, radiographers, paramedics, or physiotherapists.

Many roles undertaken by AHPs were traditionally carried out by doctors, but now it is up to AHPs to support doctors by providing integrated care, by working with medical teams, and by improving patient experience through delivering the right care, in the right place, at the right time.

Like doctors, AHPs have access to a wealth of opportunities to specialise and to take a lead role in the care planning for individuals. They are a vital part of a wider team which includes doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other AHPs – in addition to the patient, their carers and their family.

AHPs into Action

AHPs into Action is an important policy that sets out the plans for how AHPs can help transform and improve healthcare alongside the NHS Five Year Forward View.

The document details numerous examples of how different AHPs are working together across the country to improve health services and transform lives. It is clear that they are becoming ever more vital in efforts to deliver NHS care in a more effective and efficient way.

Is There a Role for Me?

Working as an AHP provides an exciting professional career where you can work independently, make decisions about care, and work with both medical and nursing teams.

A career as an AHP is a career in promoting high-quality, evidence-based care close to patient’s homes and families. AHP careers also provide limitless opportunities to work in management, teaching, research, or leadership – with many AHPs having the opportunity to to work overseas.

Whether you have interests in the sciences or the arts, engineering and physics, or sport and music, the options of a career in the Allied Health Professions are endless. Why not find out about which AHP role appeals to you?

  • Art Therapists,
  • Drama Therapists,
  • Music Therapists,
  • Chiropodists & Podiatrists,
  • Dietitians,
  • Occupational Therapists,
  • Operating Department Practitioners,
  • Orthoptists,
  • Osteopaths,
  • Paramedics,
  • Physiotherapists,
  • Prosthetists and Orthotists,
  • Radiographers, 
  • Speech and Language Therapists.

What You Need To Do

  1. Understand that doctors aren’t the only healthcare professionals. There are other options.
  2. Learn about some popular career paths in healthcare. Use the Health Careers page to find out about the numerous Allied Healthcare options that exist.

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