Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust holds first allied health professionals conference

On Tuesday 9 October, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust held its first allied health professionals conference at the W12 conference centre, Hammersmith Hospital. 

Over 100 allied health professionals (AHPs) working at our hospitals attended. The conference was open to professionals working at the Trust and was organised to celebrate the work of AHPs, to inspire attendees to continue to deliver and make improvements to patient care, and to highlight the different ways that AHPs can build their careers, both at our Trust and nationally. 

Attendees had chance to hear from a number of speakers including Suzanne Rastrick, chief allied health professions officer at NHS England and Dr Caroline Alexander, lead clinical academic for the Trust.

The conference kicked off with lunch and poster presentations from teams across all professions including occupational therapy, dietetics, speech and language therapy, physiotherapy and radiotherapy. Chris Flatt, chief AHP at the Trust, opened the conference by highlighting how AHPs work collectively to care for not only a patient’s presenting condition but their life as well, and shared his own experience of being cared for by AHPs.

Professor Janice Sigsworth, director of nursing gave a presentation where she highlighted the important role our 681 AHPs play in multidisciplinary teams at Imperial College Healthcare. The new chief AHP role at the Trust aims to give senior representation to AHPs at all levels of the organisation, ensuring their voices are heard and that they help design the strategic direction of the Trust, Janice explained. She also discussed the Therapy Career Framework, launched earlier this year at the Trust, which is designed to support therapies staff to develop their careers along one of three different career tracks: clinical specialist (where staff can develop clinical skills), clinical academic (where staff can develop research skills) and clinical leadership (where staff can develop clinical management skills). 

She was followed by Kevin Croft, director of people and organisation development, who encouraged AHPs to engage with the work to refresh the Trust’s people strategy.

Suzanne Rastrick talked about what she and NHS England are doing to support AHPs in their careers, both in terms of progression and how their skills are crucial to delivering integrated care for patients. She discussed the NHS England AHPs into Action framework, which provides a broad view of the potential of AHPs, examples of innovative AHP practice and also a framework within this around local service delivery. 

Suzanne talked about her commitment to leadership at all levels and what AHP leadership currently exists in the country. She concluded by encouraging AHPs to take advantage of NHS leadership clinical executive fast track schemes, clinical fellowships and leadership events. 

Dr Caroline Alexander presented the Strategic Research Plan for Healthcare Professionals at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, part of plans to encourage more AHPs to undertake research in order to improve care. The strategy aims to create a culture which enables, values and celebrates the impact that research has on patient care, through developing awareness of research, ensuring there is visible research leadership, enabling and facilitating research networks and supporting staff to do research.

Attendees also heard inspiring presentations from teams around the Trust on how AHPs are improving aspects of patient care at our hospitals. This included a presentation from Fazeela Chharawala, clinical specialist occupational therapist neurosciences and QI lead safer surgery, on how AHPs can get involved in quality improvement.

After the success of the conference, the Trust plans to make it an annual event.

Want to join our team of allied health professionals? Find opportunities for AHPs at all levels.