Allied health professional support workers must get equitable access to consistent and sustainable funding for education and professional development opportunities to support safe and effective patient care, warned a 14-strong coalition of organisations today.

Allied health professional (AHP) support workers continue to be a crucial part of the pandemic response, yet many report feeling invisible, with their knowledge, skills and experience being underused.

The coalition warns that healthcare services are failing to use the knowledge, skills and experience of allied health professional support workers in a planned and strategic way, undermining efforts to meet the demands of a growing population and adapt to changing patient needs.

Professional bodies and trade unions representing AHP support workers issued a joint statement today calling for employers, policy makers and workforce planners in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to take urgent action to address the unacceptable inconsistencies in education and development opportunities for the AHP support workforce.

The statement is signed jointly by the British Association of Art Therapists, the British Association of Drama Therapists, the British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists, the BDA, the British and Irish Orthoptic Society, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, the College of Operating Department Practitioners, the College of Paramedics, the College of Podiatry, the Institute of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the Society of Radiographers and Unison.

The statement calls for UK-wide career development and progression frameworks for AHP support workers, with universal access to funding for training. It also calls for the inclusion of AHP support workers in workforce development planning.

While they welcomed the recently published Health Education England (HEE) training and career development framework for AHP support workers, they insist more must be done.

British Dietetic Association Chief Executive Andy Burman says, ‘‘The unacceptable variation in access to funding and training provision for AHP Support Workers, is undermining our response to the growing demand for healthcare services. Failure to value our AHP support workers for their knowledge, skills and potential is an opportunity blocked. This comes at the very time when AHP support workers should be recognised as a solution to the challenges we face in dealing with unprecedented demand.”

Read the full statement