Allied Health Professions Education and Workforce Policy Review: National Strategic Oversight Group minutes: November 2022

Attendees and apologies

  • Carolyn McDonald, Scottish Government
  • Jess McPherson, Scottish Government
  • Anne Wallace, Scottish Government
  • Alison Moore, Scottish Government
  • Kim Lynch, Scottish Government
  • Abby Campbell, Scottish Government
  • Sean Torrens, Scottish Government
  • Lyndsay Turner, Scottish Government
  • Alistair Reid, Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS)
  • Anita Simmers, Council of Deans of Health
  • David Wylie, NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
  • Fiona Coutts, Academic Heads
  • Alison Keir, Allied Health Professions Federation Scotland (AHPFS)
  • Kay Sandilands, NHS Lanarkshire
  • Joan Pollard, Scottish Directors of AHPs (SDAHP)
  • Duncan Condie, Scottish Funding Council (SFC)


  • Karen Wilson, NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
  • Rebecca Wright, Scottish Government
  • Nyla Shah, Scottish Government
  • Jamie Hunt, The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Valerie Blair, NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
  • Margot McBride, Allied Health Professions Federation Scotland (AHPFS).
  • Sara Smith, Queen Margaret University
  • Helen Raftopoulos, Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
  • Brendon Edmonds, The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Maggs Thomson, Health And Social Care Partnership Representative
  • Barbara Morton, Scottish Government
  • Jamie Begbie, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and opening remarks

This was the final oversight group meeting and members were thanked for their participation.
Financial requirements were addressed and it was highlighted that budgets need to be considered in the narrative around the group recommendations. Some issues have been raised around current financial policy decisions that impact the allied health professions (AHP) community. These were presented to the group and it was noted that the Chief Nursing Officer Directorate education policy team will review and will provide a response, and where appropriate, these issues will be incorporated into the implementation plan going forward.

The timeframes in relation to the recommendations and implementation were reiterated to ensure an understanding of how and when the recommendations will be taken forward.

Overview and outcomes from each subgroup    

The chairs of the five subgroups presented the work of their subgroup, highlighting what they have done to reach the recommendations being put forward. It was noted that each recommendation sits within the five pillars that are included in the workforce strategy, plan, attract, train, employ and nurture. The policy team also outlined how they see each recommendation be taken forward, considering specific actions that will need to be taken against each one, outlining who would  be responsible along with the timeframes. 

Workforce and recruitment subgroup

There has been limited national AHP workforce planning in Scotland and there are no direct links between student numbers and workforce with key areas of data unknown. Student intake numbers may be limited by practice based learning availability but figures vary by individual professions. Recruitment into the NHS may vary considerably by geographical area. 

The recommendations and policy context was presented and the following aims outlined:

  • data improvement to inform workforce planning 
  • improve student destination data to inform workforce planning 
  • job planning and workload management 
  • recruitment and retention

Discussion was had and the following was noted:

  • recruitment and retention focussed on workforce as the education solutions subgroup looked at this for the professions 
  • need to consider that a lot of recruitment is now outwith the NHS 
  • there needs to be collaborative working for AHPs to be an attractive career option 
  • this group has a level of understanding around the terminology used in the recommendations but it should be kept in mind that wider audiences may not and, therefore, wording may need to be clearer 

The group were asked to ensure the essential and clear statement from an earlier draft of recommendations was not lost, namely that ‘AHPs should have national workforce planning for individual professions including long term projections that allow educational intakes to be calculated.’

Action point:

  • Scottish Governemt (SG) to revise recommendations to ensure this message is not lost

Education solutions subgroup    

Our current educational delivery models are fixed at degree level which results in limited opportunities for non-registered level roles to obtain registration other than through a degree. 

Recommendations and context were presented and the following aims were outlined:

  • increase the number of AHPs
  • increase diversity of entry routes to education
  • increase awareness of AHP careers

Following a wide-ranging discussion, members noted that:

  • higher education institutions (HEIs) are hugely supportive of providing earn and learn routes
  • young people and students should be involved in the creation of any marketing strategy

Practice based learning subgroup            

At present there is no timely, reliable and comprehensive way to obtain a national picture on how many allied health professions’ students are participating in practice based learning environments in Scotland. 

Recommendations and context were presented and the following aims were outlined:

  • coordination of placements across Scotland
  • increasing access to placements
  • increasing diversity of placements
  • embedding and developing knowledge of practice based learning across the workforce

Following a wide ranging discussion, members noted that:

  • supporting the next generation of AHPs through practice based learning is vital
  • it may be challenging to seek solutions in current environment
  • diversity and modern practices should include and look beyond just simulation

Advancing practice subgroup

There is generally no formal Scotland-wide approach to advanced practice roles to ensure consistency and parity. To ensure advancing practice there is a need for a national recognised educational and training structure for non-registered AHP staff with the opportunity to progress to registration.

The recommendations and policy context was presented and the following aims outlined:

  • implementation of career framework and workforce transformation 
  • advanced practice
  • career pathways 
  • evaluation and funding 

Discussion was had and the following was noted:

  • there is a need to work together in order to coordinate and plan sustainably 
  • there was a focus on bands 5-8 but with appreciation that this is interdependent with bands 2-4 
  • there are links to transforming roles work
  • it may be a challenge to standardise approaches to all professions and varying needs of different HEIs
  • there are links with research and education solutions, particularly alternative routes
  • further education institutions should also be considered and used 

Research innovation and relationships subgroup    

Research is a pillar in the NHS nursinf midwifery and AHP (NMAHP) career framework but there is a mixed picture across Scotland as there is no clear implementation of the career framework or career pathways. Service pressures tend to lead to an emphasis on clinical practice. The continuum and value of AHP research and improvement activity should be recognised, disseminated and celebrated to ensure transfer of knowledge into action.

The recommendations and policy context was presented and the following aims outlined:

  • core part of practice as “everyone’s business”
  • promote a national approach and strengthen research culture, including quality improvement and audit, through working collaboratively between HEIs and all boards
  • work in a multidisciplinary manner

Discussion was had and the following was noted:

  • this could link with academic homes model 
  • promoting research does not need huge investment but rather conversations and commitment 
  • making research everyone’s business would create a model that would gain momentum in time
  • can benefit from new graduates who develop their research skills during their studies to continue this in practice

Closing remarks

The group were thanked again and asked for their commitment to use their leadership in promotion of the recommendations.

Scottish Government colleagues will draft the recommendations into a submission with advice for the Cabinet Secretary. An implementation plan will be produced and it is likely that members of the group will be called on to assist with this work.

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