Background Allied health professionals (AHPs) are an important group within the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK and make up a large portion of the workforce. Investment in AHP leadership is believed to lead to improvements in patient care, resource use, collaboration and innovation. This study aims to assess the current state of AHP strategic leadership within the NHS.
Methods A freedom of information (FOI) request was sent to all NHS Trusts and health boards (HBs) within the UK NHS. The questions focused on the AHP workforce, with a particular interest in the chief AHPs (or equivalent roles) working in an NHS setting. Analysis of the FOI used a range of descriptive statistics.
Results Of the 217 Trusts/HBs contacted, responses were received from 160 (74%). The majority (81%) reported that they employed a Chief AHP or equivalent role, with only 14% of these having a position on the Trust/HB executive board. There were 50 different job titles reported as the titles for the chief AHP or equivalent roles: with director of AHPs (18.6%), lead AHP (13.9%) and chief AHP (11.6%) being the most reported titles. The results identified an inequity of representation of AHP professions within senior AHP leadership; with most of these roles (70%) held by physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
Conclusion Changes in AHP strategic leadership are needed to address the inequities identified in this study. Addressing these issues is required to enable inclusive leadership, which is crucial to improve the contribution of AHPs to healthcare.
Eddison N, Healy A, Darke N, Jones M, Leask M, Roberts GL, Chockalingam N. Exploration of the representation of the allied health professions in senior leadership positions in the UK National Health Service. BMJ Lead. 2023 Aug 24:leader-2023-000737. doi: 10.1136/leader-2023-000737. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37620124.