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Developing the role of AHP Support Workers

HEE’s national allied health professions (AHP) support workforce programme has been established to provide national leadership and support on recognising, developing, and expanding the non-registered AHP workforce.

Support workers, senior support workers, assistants and assistant practitioners work in, with and alongside the allied health professions (AHPs), providing high quality, life changing care across a range of acute and community services.

However, from our work with support workers and services across the country we know there is wide variation in their education and training, and how they are deployed.

Our work will ensure that:

  1. Patients and service users have access to skilled and consistently well-trained support workers who have a defined role within their team
  2. AHP support workers have access to development structures that provide opportunities to follow a richer and more rewarding career pathway
  3. services can address the current variation in support worker roles, banding and progression
  4. support worker roles can be at the heart of improvements in service delivery and transformation, including new models of care.

We are working collaboratively with NHS England and NHS Improvement, royal colleges, professional bodies, and other stakeholders to share innovation and build ambition.

As a result of our collective action and support we aim to:

  • Improve education standards, access and uptake for AHP support workers
  • grow the AHP support workforce alongside the registered workforce
  • improve retention of the AHP support workforce and reduce vacancies
  • improve the diversity of the support workforce.

One-off pump prime funding was offered to NHS trusts in England 2021/22 to accelerate recognition and understanding of the support workforce, and implementation of the framework. This builds on similar work for the maternity support workforce. Additional funding was also offered to AHP Faculties to support coordinated workforce improvement activity across an integrated care system (ICS). Our ambition is that recognising, supporting, and developing the support workforce starts to become business as usual over the next year. HEE will therefore offer the following support in 2022/23 to employers and ICSs to build on collective progress so far: