Scotland's health and social care services are entering a period of unprecedented change that will underpin our vision of enhanced quality, improved efficiency and financial sustainability as we strive to address the challenges of demographic change and rising demands on public services. Our plans for integration of planning and delivery of services can provide real and tangible benefits for providers and users of services as we strengthen our commitment to person- and family-centred services and enhance support for carers.
The achievement of our ambitions will largely depend on leaders and practitioners working together and employing strategies to manage demand, prevent dependency and support individuals and their families to live healthy fulfilling lives at home, or in a homely setting, for as long as possible. Rehabilitation, enablement and self-management approaches will play a central role in underpinning this transformation, which will be realised in the way we support individuals and communities to be strong, resilient and in so doing shift the paradigm away from over-reliance on hospitals and professional interventions.
Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) are a vital part of this paradigmatic shift. They are the only professions expert in rehabilitation at the point of registration and bring a different perspective to the planning and delivery of services. They are uniquely placed to exploit their expertise in rehabilitation/enablement and leadership across health and social care and to drive integration at the point of care.
While I am aware that AHPs practice across all age groups and specialties, our immediate priorities and challenges focus on meeting the growing needs of the older population, those with long-term conditions and people with dementia, who are among the most frequent users of acute care services. AHPs can make an immediate impact on the lives of these individuals, and also ensure resources are used to best effect, by preventing unnecessary admissions to hospital and providing alternative pathways to secondary care referral.
I would encourage chief executives and leaders across health and social care to utilise AHP expertise to the full as we work to deliver our shared national outcomes, with which the National AHP Delivery Plan will be explicitly aligned. I wholeheartedly believe that raising the visibility, accountability and impact of AHPs within health and social care partnerships will benefit all concerned.
Much success has already been achieved through the development of AHP strategic leadership in NHSScotland. I now fully expect AHP directors to strengthen their contribution to the planning and delivery of health and social care services, including use of the Change Fund, to bring new solutions and approaches to these challenges and to drive the development of enabling approaches that will help us fully to realise our vision for Scotland's population.
Michael Matheson, MSP
Minister for Public Health
Email: Susan Malcolm