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Allied health professions

The Interim NHS People Plan outlines the significant role AHPs will play to support the demands the NHS will face in the next ten years and help to deliver the ambitions of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Health Education England’s role: Ensure an effective supply of AHPs, ensuring robust deployment and development of staff, place a focus on the retention of staff, across professions and geography. This will ensure the right workforce, with the right skills, is in the right place to deliver high-quality care by 2024.

To deliver this we are working on four key workstreams:

Stimulate demand

Make AHPs the career of choice, stimulate and incentivise applications for AHP undergraduate course places.

Work in partnership with stakeholders to co-ordinate a sustained plan of careers activity (including those targeted at careers changers and supporting NHS Careers week)

Support the production of resources to drive careers work and broaden routes into the professions locally

Provide targeted support to the small and vital professions

Work in partnership with NHSE/I to deliver increased pre-registration programme diversity and widening participation activity

Focussed support for local systems to grow their own workforce to include registered and non-registered workforce

Optimise support workforce, upskilling and new registrants

Increase capacity

Increase the capacity, applications and acceptances to AHP courses to support the delivery of the Long Term Plan.

Maximise undergraduate and returning workforce supply through planned and sustained careers and Return to Practice work

Modernise roles and ways of working in line with NHS People Plan requirements to ensure a supply of 21st-century facing graduates

Build significant clinical placement expansion, innovation and resilience

Bridging the gap between education and employment

Support different entry routes into AHP roles and explore potential alternatives to optimise the position of the profession to contribute to 21st-century workforce

Education reform work and routes into the professions

Deliver NHS People Plan placement expansion targets and geographical distribution and COVID-19 restart

Optimise the role of the support workforce within each profession through the development of a career framework and educational review

Enabling the workforce to deliver and grow

Support AHPs to develop throughout their career, via advanced practice and new roles, including medicines management, digital technology and informatics and leadership and improvement, capacity and capability.

Develop regional leadership and system capacity

Support the development and complete the roll-out of AHP Faculties

Deliver new roles and ways of working to optimise the scope of practice, including primary care, AP credentials, wider workforce activity, Sonography regulation and direct entry sonography routes.


The Programme works across all 14 professions and their associated Professional Bodies, Regulators, Council of Deans for Health (CoDH), Office for Students (OfS) and the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to:

optimise the supply of AHPs

realise the potential of the AHP workforce

ensure a robust career pathway that maximises the contribution of AHPs (and their support workforce) and their retention in NHS services

The Allied Health Professions (AHPs) comprise of 14 distinct occupations including: art therapists, dietitians, dramatherapists, music therapists, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, osteopaths, paramedics, physiotherapists, podiatrists, prosthetists and orthotists, diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers, and speech and language therapists.

More detailed information on AHPs careers and roles can be found on the Health Careers website.

For mre details about how we work  contact the team. Contact the team: AHPnatprog@hee.nhs.uk

Read our full report of the National Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) Workforce Programme project, ‘Scoping the future of the ODP workforce’. This project ran between September 2021 and April 2022 and focused on the ODP workforce in England.

This report was prepared for Health Education England (HEE) but is relevant to anyone with an interest in the ODP workforce. It details the approach, findings and outputs from the project and provides several recommendations and next steps. A shorter executive summary report is also available. 

Key messages include 

-The ODP workforce is uniquely skilled, valued, and vital to the delivery of care in England in the 21st century and elective care recovery

-The ODP workforce needs specific attention to thrive as a lack of profession specific attention has held back development of the profession in delivering its full value to population health

-The ODP profession needs to be better understood by the public, other health workers and workforce leads to enable employers to adequately recruit into the profession and optimally exploit the value and expertise of the profession

-ODP is uniquely connected across Allied Health Professions (AHPs), Nursing and other professions and these links must be respected and utilised to maximise support to the profession. 

Access the full report or executive summary to find out more. 

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