I am delighted that HCPC is celebrating the work of all allied health professions (AHPs), including those we regulate, on this special Day. AHPs Day is not only a celebration; it is an important opportunity to improve public awareness of AHPs and the vital roles they play.
At HCPC, we know just how much AHPs do to care for people and keep them healthy and safe, not least in recent months. Some have become better known during the pandemic, but the reassurance of being cared for by a regulated professional is not yet common knowledge amongst the wider public and nor do employers always automatically accord AHPs time for their CPD. All Allied Health Professions richly deserve our praise and thanks. I was absolutely delighted to see AHPs recognised within the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. On behalf of everyone at HCPC, congratulations to them all.
We will continue to do all we can not only to highlight the excellent work AHPs do, but to ensure we support and facilitate their pivotal role in caring for the public in the months and years ahead.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, over 27,000 health and care professionals, including many AHPs, were added to HCPC’s temporary register, a sure sign of the vital role played by health and care professions in keeping the public safe.
COVID-19 has increased awareness that it is not only doctors and nurses on whom we depend for our health and care. The NHS’s response to the pandemic has been a true team effort, involving a wide range of health and care professionals, many of them AHPs. We’ve seen and heard how they have developed new ways of practising, learned new skills, and we will continue to support innovation that improves care in these testing times.
COVID-19 is going to have significant long-term implications for people’s health and wellbeing. Whether it be on pre-existing mental or physical health conditions, or the development of long-term Covid-19 symptoms. ‘Long Covid’ as the latter is now known, is a condition that we are learning about and seeing more people affected by it. We at HCPC welcomed NHS England’s announcement that people suffering ‘long Covid’ symptoms will be offered specialist help. In particular, we welcomed the recognition of the role AHPs, including professions regulated by HCPC, will play in helping the thousands of sufferers of long Covid.
The long-term impacts of this illness have the potential to be extremely damaging to the nation’s health and wellbeing and consequently, its workforce and economy. This will shine an even brighter light on the UK’s AHPs.
We have been impressed and heartened by the ways in which our registrants, indeed all AHPs, have risen to the recent challenges presented, and I hope this will encourage others to consider taking up a career within the AHP professions. As the regulator in all four nations of the UK, HCPC hopes to motivate more people to consider becoming AHPs.
We’re proud to be supporting AHP Day events and celebrations across the country, giving these professions the recognition they deserve. In Scotland, AHPs Day is introducing a new theme for the day, which this year is ‘connecting with others’ – this focuses on what relationships and conversations you need to be engaging in with AHPs. In Wales, Kellie Green, HCPC’s Professionalism and Upstream Regulation lead, will be taking part in a webinar for the AHP Festival Wales. Kellie will be speaking about the challenges of meeting professional standards during a pandemic, how some professionals have adapted their practice and the support that remains available for HCPC registrants. In Northern Ireland, last month Health Minister Robin Swann highlighted the importance of AHPs by announcing 16 extra Allied Health Professional student places for 2020. Finally, NHS England is launching the next phase of its ‘We are the NHS’ campaign, targeted at increasing the recruitment of AHPs, which the HCPC fully supports.
I would like to conclude by quoting HCPC Registrant, occupational therapist, Christana Akinremi, who commented on how her work has been impacted by COVID-19, saying that:
“When I look back over the last few months and think about what kept me going, it was mostly knowing that I am helping patients and providing them with the care they need. In the peak of the pandemic, the care for them did not cease.”
I think this sums up the dedication and commitment that AHPs have shown during the most challenging of times.