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NSFT's first Allied Health Professional strategy developed at creative conference

​Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) came together yesterday to develop the Trust’s first AHP strategy, at a conference showcasing creativity.

The event, hosted in Thetford on Wednesday (27 September) brought together around 120 qualified and student AHPs, who work in services across the Trust to share learning, innovative practice and develop the Trust’s AHP five year strategy on how to put  the expertise of AHPs to best use in our service .

Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) is the name given to occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, art, drama, music, dance therapists, play therapists, dieticians and mental health practitioners or psychological practitioners, who have an AHP qualification. 

AHPs are a diverse group of practitioners who deliver high quality care by carrying out assessment, diagnosis, treatment and discharge. Although most people associate these professionals as working within physical healthcare, they play an equally important role in mental healthcare too.

There was an array of speakers throughout the day who encouraged learning, discussion and reflection, including the keynote speaker Dr. Peter Lovatt, also known as ‘Dr Dance’, from the University of Hertfordshire.

Dr Lovatt is an expert on the social and cognitive benefits of dance for physical and mental health and got people up and moving with an interactive talk.

Lindsey Lovatt, AHP Lead at NSFT, said: “We were very keen to integrate a creative element into the day as many of those attending offer artistic and innovative therapies in their roles.

Local MP Norman Lamb addressed attendees and read out a letter from Jennifer Campbell, a service user who highlighted how important occupational therapy was to her recovery.

Catherine Wells, Lead Governor at NSFT, who is a trained Occupational Therapist, spoke at the event about the changes she has encountered in the NHS and how now is the time to bring AHPs to the forefront.

Lindsey added: “AHPs may make up smaller percentage of our workforce than doctors or nurses, but their specialisms are crucial to a patient’s recovery and quality of life, no matter what their mental health condition. They each bring unique skills to multi-disciplinary teams and we are proud to champion them at our Trust.

A local media student from Norwich filmed at the conference and spoke to AHPs about the work they do. This will feature in a short film which will be released alongside NSFT’s AHP strategy.

The national AHP strategy was published by NHS England in January and NSFT’s local strategy will be published by the end of year.

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