QualityWatch: Focus on allied health professionals

Can we measure quality of care?

September 2014

Holly Dorning

Key points

  • Our analysis seeks to understand more about the quality of care delivered by Allied health professionals (AHPs) and how it might be changing.
  • However, in view of the lack of information available, we also take this opportunity to recommend ways to improve the visibility of AHP care in datasets.

This QualityWatch report, published in partnership with the Nuffield Trust, explores how best the quality of care delivered by allied health professionals can be measured, and presents the key findings from the available data.

Allied health professionals (AHPs) are a group of 12 distinct professions that form a critical part of healthcare. Together they accounted for 6% of the NHS workforce and over £2 billion in NHS salary costs in 2013. As a collective group and as distinct professionals, AHPs’ remit is diverse and far-reaching. They work in many settings, with many other professionals and at all points on the patient pathway.

However, despite the size of the workforce and the broad scope of care, comprehensive data on the impact AHPs have on the quality of care is not routinely collected. In this report, we explore:

  • the information we have about AHP activity
  • regional variation in the number of AHPs working in the NHS
  • the characteristics of people attending AHP outpatient appointments
  • the impacts of including AHPs in stroke audit data
  • how AHPs who work in the NHS feel about the care they deliver.

About QualityWatch

QualityWatch is a major research programme from the Nuffield Trust and the Health Foundation, providing independent scrutiny into how the quality of health and social care is changing over time. For further resources and analysis from this programme of work, visit the dedicated QualityWatch website.

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