Supporting allied health professionals under 'extreme pressure'

Joint statement recognises temporary changes to practice

Published: 19 March 2020 Supporting allied health professionals under 'extreme pressure'

The 'extreme pressure' being felt by radiographers and allied health professionals because of Covid-19 is acknowledged in a letter to staff from the chief allied health professionals officers (CAHPOs) for the four UK nations, as well as the chief executive of the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the chairs of the Allied Health Professions Federation (AHPF) and the Council of Deans of Health.

"This pressure will inevitably be exacerbated by staff shortages due to sickness or caring responsibilities. It will be a challenge, but we are confident that AHPs and their support workforce will respond rapidly and professionally and want to assure colleagues that we recognise this will require temporary changes to practice, and that regulators and others will take this into account," the letter says.

"A significant epidemic will require healthcare professionals to be flexible in what they do. It may entail working in unfamiliar circumstances or surroundings or working in clinical areas outside of their usual practice for the benefit of patients, individuals and the population as a whole. This can be stressful, and we recognise that you may have concerns about both the professional practicalities and implications of working in such circumstances."

It advises registrants that, "It is the responsibility of the organisations in which you work to ensure that you are supported... They must bear in mind that clinicians may need to depart, possibly significantly, from established procedures in order to care for people in the unique and highly challenging but timebound circumstances of the peak of an epidemic.

"We expect employers, educationalists, professional bodies, and national NHS organisations to be flexible in terms of their approach and the expectations of routine requirements. Healthcare professional regulators, including the HCPC, have already committed to take into account factors relevant to the environment in which the professional is working.

"Due consideration should and will be given to AHPs and other staff who are using their skills under difficult circumstances due to lack of personnel and overwhelming demand in a major epidemic. This may include working outside an individual's scope of practice. The healthcare regulators have released a joint statement to explain this."

The concerns of students who are worried about placements and other aspects of their courses, are mentioned: "We are also determined to ensure the long‐term education of students are not compromised. This will be given appropriate consideration by all the relevant bodies."

Read the letter.