Allied Health Professionals, or AHPs, are recognised by the NHS and work with people of all ages in a range of settings, from hospitals and clinics to schools and care homes. Their skillset enables them to help people to overcome a variety of health challenges, from limited mobility or visual problems to nutritional deficiencies and communication issues. AHPs must be registered with the Health and Care Professionals Council which is a regulatory body within the UK that protects the public through rigorous standards and professional training standards. There are 14 Allied Health Professionals which are listed below:
Osteopaths are highly trained registered AHPs who diagnose and treat a variety of medical conditions, taking a holistic approach to care. This form of treatment is focused on the understanding that the skeleton, muscles and ligaments need to function together well to maintain overall wellbeing and to help the body heal itself. Osteopaths use non-invasive treatments, including stretching, massage, touch and physical manipulation to enhance mobility. Osteopaths conduct full medical case histories and use clinical examinations to make diagnoses. They then agree on individual management plans that may include hands-on treatment, exercise, health and lifestyle advice. They refer to and work with other healthcare professionals. To learn more about what osteopaths do visit https://www.bcom.ac.uk/about-osteopathy/how-to-become-an-osteopath/
Orthoptist’s help treats retinopathy in premature infants, children with reduced vision and adults who have eye movement issues as a result of hypertension, endocrine dysfunction, diabetes, stroke or cancer. Orthoptic practitioners often specialise in specific issues such as cataracts, age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. Orthoptists may work in many different areas of medicine, from paediatrics, neurology, rehabilitation, geriatrics, maxilla-facial surgery or community services.
Art therapists work with patients to treat a variety of issues, from emotional and behavioural concerns to mental health problems, neurological conditions and learning disabilities. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that can be effective for people of all ages to support them with their health concerns. Art therapy is not a diagnostic tool but a way to help people communicate and express themselves.
Dramatherapists use a combination of theatre knowledge and classic therapy techniques as a form of psychological therapy. It’s used by clients who have a variety of different issues, ranging from dementia and autism to sufferers of physical or sexual abuse and mental illness. Dramatherapists may work in mental health settings, schools, general health social care, prisons or the voluntary sector.
Music therapists work to improve the emotional wellbeing of the individual and develop their communication skills through musical interaction. Music therapy is often used with patients who cannot speak as a result of a disability or traumatic experience, or injury or illness which impacts their psychological, emotional or cognitive function. It can also be used for young children to establish a parent-child bond, as well as for those receiving end-of-life care.
Podiatrists are trained to assess and treat conditions related to the feet for patients with a variety of conditions, both acute and long-term issues, such as diabetes, peripheral nerve damage and cerebral palsy. Some podiatrists may also specialise in biomechanics, which is connected to sports-related injuries, diabetes, rheumatology, high-risk wound healing, or form part of multidisciplinary teams.
Dietitians assess, diagnose and treat dietary and nutritional problems in patients, as well as guiding the wider public on the latest research on how food impacts health and diseases. People in this field often work in the NHS or private practice, as educators, public relations, or in research to influence health policies.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) work in a range of settings, including the NHS, social care services, schools, prisons or rehabilitation services. OTs can assist people of all ages who are struggling with physical, mental, social and developmental issues. They identify strengths and weaknesses a patient may have in everyday life, and provide solutions to help them maintain or regain their independence.
Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs) support patients throughout all stages of their perioperative care, from the anaesthetic stage to surgery and recovery. ODPs are responsible for preparing the operating theatre for surgeries and maintaining clear communication between different teams.
Prosthetists provide gait analysis for patients with limb loss, with extensive training in biomechanics and material science. They design and provide prostheses that can provide the functional and structural characteristics of limbs, helping patients with congenital loss and those who have suffered limb loss as a result of diabetes or infection.
Orthotists similarly provide gait analysis and engineering solutions but for patients with neurological, muscular and skeletal problems. They provide orthoses that modify the characteristics of the muscular and skeletal systems to reduce pain, prevent falls and improve mobility.
Paramedics assess the condition of patients and provide essential treatment after an accident or medical emergency. They may use equipment such as defibrillators, intravenous drips or spinal and traction splints, as well as administering oxygen when needed.
Physiotherapy improves the physical, psychological and wellbeing of patients through optimising their function and health status. They use manual therapy and exercises to do this, taking different approaches based on the needs of the individual. Physiotherapists often work in community and workplace settings, as well as with patients of all age groups.
Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) help patients overcome or adapt to disorders that affect their speech, communication and swallowing. They often work with children, but also patients in the early days following a stroke to reduce life-threatening swallowing and drinking difficulties. They also work closely with carers, parents and other professionals to educate them on related issues.
Radiographers include both diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers. Diagnostic radiographers create images to diagnose injuries or diseases, as well as provide accurate imaging examinations. They often work as part of Breast Screening teams or Ultrasound monitoring for pregnant women. Therapeutic radiographers are essential in the treatment of cancer, which is used either alone or alongside chemotherapy.
Each AHP has its own professional body which is designed to advance the practice of the profession, promote education and training.