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AHP Faculties

AHP Faculties play a key role in helping shape the next generation of AHPs by coordinating activities to support their supply, education and training. 

The AHP Faculty model provides the infrastructure to facilitate system-wide working between health and care providers and HEIs. There are many benefits of working in this way which include; ensuring AHP students have sufficient access to rich learning environments and creating sustainable and innovative recruitment and retention strategies to ensure our pipeline of AHP professionals continues to thrive and grow.

The NHS Long Term Plan emphasised the need ensure enough staff are available to meet demand, by:

  • increasing the number of people joining the AHP workforce
  • reducing attrition in education and training
  • improving retention of our existing workforce
  • increased international recruitment

To help achieve the objectives HEE have invested in 24 AHP faculty ‘test beds’ across England, aligned to an STP/ICS footprint (or equivalent).

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant many student placements have ceased, leaving students behind on their clinical placement hours, delaying course progression which may ultimately disrupt and reduce the pipeline of future AHP practitioners.

It has never been so important that systems work well together to develop their recovery plans alongside the need for growth of our AHP numbers.  The majority of AHP Faculty testbeds that were developed have concluded that this infrastructure provides a valuable vehicle in which to house these conversations and crucial work.  AHP Faculties in many areas are becoming business as usual and there is also the potential for the development of new AHP Faculties where they did not previously exist.  There is a need for a robust communication plan around this work to showcase existing good practice and inspire others to adopt this model in their own systems.

"We witnessed energy, innovation and creativity at the AHP Faculty Showcase, the open sharing of achievement and learning from AHPs was inspiring. The impact of Faculty development already demonstrates how collaborative working benefits all elements of the system" - Suzanne Rastrick OBE, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer (England), Supporting NHS England & NHS Improvement, Health Education England and the Department of Health & Social Care

The AHP Faculty Toolkit has been created as a resource, in response to AHP Faculties feedback on key resources, to support those wanting to establish a Faculty and/or wanting to improve the effectiveness of an existing Faculty.

The AHP Faculty maturity matrix has been developed to outline the core characteristics of AHP Faculties as they develop.  It provides you with a method to self-assess the progress of your faculty and it will help you to identify areas that require further attention.  The matrix illustrates that when the faculty is working at its best, this is what it can look like.  It is recognised that not all domains will develop at the same pace and there will be varying levels of maturity across each domain.  The development of your faculty will be a work in progress but we hope that this tool will help you to work through any challenges that occur and share your successes when things are working well.

>> Download the AHP Faculty Maturity Matrix - accessible pdf
>> Download the AHP Faculty Maturity Matrix self-assement form only
>> Download the AHP Faculty Maturity Matrix - powerpoint document and self-assessment form - for print only

This AHP Faculty Virtual Showcase provided an update on the establishment and ongoing work of the AHP Faculty testbeds running up to July 2020. This was an informal event to showcase and discuss ongoing activity. It was an opportunity for participants to learn, share and engage with each other.

Like everything in the wake of COVID-19, the nature of the meeting we had planned shifted slightly. We took this time to focus on the impact that AHP Faculty testbeds had had up to July 2020; their initial introduction was to facilitate system-wide collaboration between health and care providers and education providers, but how did this play out?

>> Watch the Showcase recording here 
>> View the Showcase slides here 

Over September 2020 we held a series of webinars, each focusing on three Allied Health Professions. We looked at the national challenges for each profession at the time, captured the perspective of the professional bodies and looked at profession-specific workforce data. 

This series provided a 360 look at each profession, and: 

 - provided AHP information and data on each profession
 - raised awareness, promoted value and optimised AHP skills utilisation within the system

Watch the below recordings for a deep dive into these Allied Health Professions 

AHP Workforce webinar 1: Occupational Therapy, Podiatry and Art Therapy​, recorded 10 September 2020, 9.30 - 10.45 
Webinar recording 

Additional resources:
 - AHP Apprenticeship routes AA Torbay
 - Supporting AHP roles South Devon College Apprenticeship slides

AHP Workforce webinar 2: Physiotherapy, Operating Department Practitioners and Orthoptists, recorded Friday 18 September 2020, 9am - 10.15am
Webinar recording 

AHP Workforce webinar 3: Dietetics, Drama Therapy and Paramedics, recorded Friday 25 September 2020, 11am - 12.15pm
Webinar recording

AHP Workforce webinar 4: Speech and Language Therapy, Music Therapy and Prosthetists and Orthotists, recorded Tuesday 29 September 2020, 3pm - 4.15pm
Webinar recording

AHP Workforce webinar 5: Diagnostic Radiography, Therapeutic Radiography and Osteopaths, recorded Wednesday 30 September 2020, 10am - 11.15am
Webinar recording 

View the slides to all of the above webinars here

The Summary Findings have been provided to help inform improvement, spread and adoption for the AHP Faculties. The evaluation uses mixed-methods research to identify early lessons on process, impact and economic value.

Access the January 2021 Faculty Test Beds Formative Evaluation: Summary Findings - This report presents the updated findings of the evaluation following a review of 21 of the Faculty Test –Bed Pilot Report.

A summary of the findings from July 2020 can be found below:

Expected Faculty Characteristics
Faculties are designed to provide a cost-effective means of coordinating AHP workforce development activities. To achieve this they are expected to:
 - Have a strong local governance structure knitted into the wider system,
 - Have leadership and engagement of relevant local stakeholders,
 - Have an operating model built around PDSA (or equivalent improvement practices), and 
 - be supported by strong data and information.

Progress with Implementation
- The 24 Faculty Test Beds have all been established.
- Progress has been delayed as a result of key resources being redeployed during the set-up phase to work on COVID-19 related activities.
- Local ecosystems mean there are many moving parts that have influenced their state of readiness and progress.
-  Progress with inputs and processes in setting up the faculties and projects. Variation across faculties.
- No specific outputs/outcomes to be seen yet.

Operational Characteristics
 - Overall the faculties align well to expectations
 - High level of diversity across the faculties, yet many common elements throughout
 - Some elements may need to be developed further for some faculties:
      - PDSA
      - Informatics capabilities
 - Faculty projects are mainly focused on two or less priority workforce development themes; return to work is not yet part of any faculty project priorities
 - Core team is crucial for progress

Critical Success Factors
 - System-wide leadership and empowerment of the Faculty leads to lead beyond their authority
 - Engagement with the HEIs
 - Culture of collaboration
 - Access to placement tariff funding
 - Availability and use of data and informatics
 - Recognition and priority within the wider ICS workforce agenda

Impact of COVID
COVID-19 has had varying impacts on the delivery of the faculties
 - It was cited as a cause of work pausing in some faculties
 - For a few, it was viewed as an opportunity to push ahead with plans and adapt to the emerging situation
 - Some faculties have continued to meet virtually during the last 2 months
 - Placements are now a primary area of focus
 - The act of having the conversation about the COVID-19 “opportunity” seemed to provide a thought-provoking intervention for stakeholders to consider how they might work with it to their system’s advantage

Return on Investment
 - It is too early to report on the success or otherwise of the Faculty in achieving its goals and having an impact on AHP vacancy levels.
 - However, based on the expected fully-loaded economic costs of the faculties, they would each achieve a positive return on investment if they are able to reduce local AHP vacancies by more than 5 FTEs.
 - If they were able to fill vacancies with agency staff, they would need to be able to reduce local AHP vacancies by more than 21 FTEs to break even.
 - One of the roles of the Faculty should be to facilitate the building of an evidence base for investment in AHP workforce initiatives, and to build the evidence of the value AHPs can bring to the wider

MNET Tariff:  HEE to stipulate that placement tariff payment requires evidence of how it has been spent.

Leadership: AHPs need supported, skilled-up and nurtured to lead beyond their authority. HEE to consider lifelong leadership programme and mechanisms for supporting professionals at key career moments.

Clinical Placement Platform: HEE to co-produce thinking with AHP community on a new national placement infrastructure.

Professional Development Parity: HEE to explore how the AHP education lifecycle could achieve investment parity with nursing and medical careers.

Storytelling & Governance: HEE to consider how it can support the AHP body to redefine its relationship to systems and particularly ICS in order that it views AHPs as the workforce burning platform (as opposed to nursing).

Evidence Base: Build an evidence base for workforce development.

Data: HEE to establish the data requirements, data collection and data management and dashboard to support the faculty.

PDSA: Faculties to use a PDSA (or equivalent) process grounded in informatics to find local solutions to local problems to address the workforce gap and deliver the quadruple aim.