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

This is a joint press release between Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust & North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust.

North 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 and Cumbria County Council 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.

Janet Folland, Professional Lead for Occupational Therapy at Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust 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.”

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.”

Doreen Singleton, Professional Lead For Occupational Therapy for Adult Social Care at Cumbria County Council said:

“Adult Social Care are delighted to be a partner in the Allied Health Professional Strategy. We believe that working together in this way we will improve health and care services for individuals and their carers going forward. Together we can help ensure we are delivering not only a more seamless service but also we will improve the outcomes for the people to whom we provide care and support.”

The strategy sets out shared agreements between organisations and will lead to more initiatives like Home First, which has helped hundresds of 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.


The West, North and East Cumbria Allied Health Professional Strategy launch was held at Rheged near Penrith on 29th March 2017 and brought together staff from NHS England, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT), Cumbria Learning and Improvement Collaborative (CLIC), North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust (NCUHT), and Cumbria County Council.

In September 2012 the organisation of International Chief Health Professions Officers (ICHPO) provided an agreed definition of an Allied Health Professionals:

“Allied Health Professions are a distinct group of health professionals who apply their expertise to prevent disease transmission, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate people of all ages and all specialties. Together with a range of technical and support staff they may deliver direct patient care, rehabilitation, treatment, diagnostics and health improvement interventions to restore and maintain optimal physical, sensory, psychological, cognitive and social functions.”