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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.

Introducing HEE's AHP Support Workforce Programme

The Allied Health Professions Support Workforce plays an important role in delivering safe and effective care for service users across health and care. We have spoken to members of the AHP workforce, and they have shared their thoughts and concerns with us.  

We need to ensure that our AHP support workforce have the right knowledge and skills, are supported by training and education, and have access to opportunities for career progression. This will ensure that patients, service users and their families and carers have access to a skilled and well-trained workforce.  

We are working collaboratively with employers, NHS England, royal colleges, professional bodies, Trade unions and stakeholders to achieve our programme aims.  

The national AHP Support Workforce have developed this short animation, which provides further information:  

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.

You can join in on the conversation on social media, by using the hashtag #AHPsupportworkers 

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.

1. Improve education standards, access and uptake for AHP support workers

2. Grow the AHP support workforce alongside the registered workforce

3. Improve retention of the AHP support workforce and reduce vacancies

4. 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:


Theatre Support Workers - This report is a one year study to identify the extent to which theatre support workers (TSWs) seek opportunities to become Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs).  

Funded by Health Education England and authored by June Davis and Professor Mary Lovegrove OBE, Allied Health Solutions, February 2022.

Education, Training and  Deployment of Operating Department Practitioners - This report is a study which reviewed the education, training and deployment of Operating Department Practitioners shortly after the profession joined the AHPs under the remit of the Chief Allied Health Professions Officer for England.

Funded by Health Education England and authored by Professor Mary Lovegrove OBE, Allied Health Solutions, 2019