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“Inspirational” Health Professionals blaze a trail with strategy to improve patient care

stethoscope[N]orth Cumbria is setting the bar high as the first region in the UK to launch its local Allied Health Professional’s (AHP) strategy.

Allied Health Professionals (AHP) across the different NHS organisations in Cumbria have been working together to develop new and innovative ways of working to improve patient journeys. For example, Occupational Therapists in Penrith joined forces with the North West Ambulance Service in May 2016 to create an admission avoidance car which managed to stop 29 people going to A&E unnecessarily and has saved the NHS over £80,000.

Helen McGahon, Head of Physiotherapy at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust and Chair of the West North East Cumbria AHP Leads explained: “This is something that we are really proud of especially as it was developed in partnership with not just nine different Allied Health Professions but also with the voluntary sector and patient representatives. Because we have developed it together we feel we have a strategy that supports innovation and encourages continued improvement for all of us. This strategy will help raise the profile and the importance of Allied Health Professionals in every aspect of our patient’s health and wellbeing and has put north Cumbria on the map.

Janet Folland, Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, helped to organise the event and said: “This is really significant for Cumbria and shows how forward-thinking we are in terms of improvement. There are so many fantastic things happening in the county and together we can make a huge difference.”

The strategy sets out shared agreements between organisations and has led to initiatives like Home First, which has helped more than 600 patients receive support from home rather than be admitted into the Cumberland Infirmary from the Accident and Emergency department.

Suzanne Rastrick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer from NHS England, is one of the driving forces behind the national strategy and praised Cumbria for being the first area in England to implement it as a system-wide approach. Suzanne said: “I have a massive respect for what is being done and the work of AHP’s in Cumbria. In terms of the work I do all over the country, Cumbria is quite inspirational. I’m holding you up as a shining example of what can be achieved.”

Stephen Singleton, Director of Cumbria Learning and Improvement Collaborative, said: “In West, North and East Cumbria, we will become famous for our teamwork, our attitude and our high quality care. Today is about converting strategy into action and making this dream happen.”

The national AHP strategy, titled ‘AHP’s into Action’, was initially launched in January 2017 to encourage a joined-up approach to working across care organisations and support the delivery of the Five Year Forward View.

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