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Staffing issuesDec 10, 2020

Covid's second wave will demand a 'sustained and prolonged' response from AHPs

Physiotherapists and other allied health professionals (AHPs) across the UK have been praised for their ‘exemplary’ response so far to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ringing endorsement of the contribution made by AHPs since Covid-19 first struck is contained in a letter dated 7 December and signed by the most senior AHP figures in each country in the UK.

 

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Employers must be flexible about their expectations as the second wave unfolds

DJO Global
DJO Global

We are very proud of the response of the AHPs to this challenge, and we hope you are as well. It has been exemplary' [the letter states]

‘Thank you for the remarkable work you have done, are doing and will continue to do. You were a testament to our professions during the first wave and we know you have been working tirelessly to improve Covid and non-Covid care since,’ the letter states.

‘We are very proud of the response of the AHPs to this challenge, and we hope you are as well. It has been exemplary,’ the letter states.

Headed ‘Supporting AHPs throughout the Covid-19’ and sent to 'AHP chiefs', the letter warns that the continuing second wave could lead to a ‘wide local variation and fluctuation in cases’. A ‘sustained and prolonged response from all healthcare professionals’ during the winter months will be required.

'Temporary' changes in practice may be needed

As a consequence, AHPs may have to make ‘temporary’ changes to their practice – a factor that has been taken into account by their regulatory bodies – the letter points out. To reinforce this position, the letter is also signed by the heads of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the General Osteopathic Council (GOC).

‘We expect employers, educational supervisors, professional bodies, national NHS and health and social care organisations to be flexible in terms of their approach and the expectations of routine requirements,’ the letter states.

‘We want AHPs, in partnership with patients, to use their professional judgement to assess risk and to make sure people receive safe care, informed by the values and principles set out in their professional standards.

‘We expect you to follow your regulators’ guidance and use your judgement in applying the principles, taking account of the realities of an emergency situation. It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that clinicians working in their organisations are supported to do this.’

Employers must ‘bear in mind’ that clinicians may have to depart – possibly significantly – from established procedures in caring for patients for the foreseeable future.

Supporting student placements

The signatories emphasise that AHP students’ educational programmes must be maintained as the effects of the pandemic continue to unfold. The thorny issue of ensuring there are enough opportunities for students to go on placement is touched on.

‘We are committed to ensuring the long-term prospects of AHPs in training and are working with the education bodies in the four nations to maintain as far as possible student education programmes,’ the letter notes.

Mutual support vital

‘We urge you to support this and continue to offer student placement opportunities wherever possible. We all need to support one another during this time: mutual support makes this easier to manage, personally as well as professionally.’

The letter is signed by Ruth Crowder, chief AHP adviser for Wales, and her counterparts in Northern Ireland, Scotland and England: Jennifer Keane, Carolyn McDonald and Suzanne Rastrick, respectively. The other two signatories are John Barwick, the HCPC’s chief executive officer and registrar, and Matthew Redford, the GOC’s chief executive and registrar.

To read the letter in full, visit: https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/wp-content/uploads/sites/52/2020/03/C0881-joint-letter-on-supporting-ahps-in-covid-19-winter-071220.pdf

To see a statement issued by the HCPC and other regulators in March on their apporach to regulation in light of Covid-19, see: http://www.hcpc-uk.co.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/how-we-will-continue-to-regulate-in-light-of-novel-coronavirus/

Author: Ian A McMillan
DJO Global
DJO Global
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