There are three Ps to my voice piece this month – professionalism, paramedics and prescribing.
Firstly, professionalism – and the Big Conversation which I instigated in February this year. The original stakeholder group looking at this issue met again in June to take stock. While there was a temptation to move into the more concrete arena of a plan for further action with measures of success, it became very clear from the feedback that its attraction is the ‘social movement’ style of it.
I have seen the Big Conversation in action all over the country as I read professional journals and tweets and attend conferences, team meetings and other events. AHPs are discussing this subject from so many different angles: what does professionalism mean? Can students been trained to be professional? As a student, what do you do if you see unprofessional behaviour? Does the efficiency drive impact on our ability to be professional?
I have been really impressed by AHPs who are willing to share their dilemmas with each other – and with me – and work through the possible answers. This is exactly what we wanted to see as we raise the consciousness of this issue in terms of how we work.
The next stage is ‘Keep Talking’. Keep the conversations going and keep feeding back to me how you are getting on. The professionalism items in this bulletin should help stimulate some further discussion. I really want to make sure we develop a culture between us where being able to talk about unprofessional behaviour and do something when you see it is the norm, not something we all shy away from.
Secondly, paramedics. This month I spent two days with West Midlands Ambulance Service and with three paramedics in particular – Rachel, Noor and Andy. I was impressed by their professional behaviour, despite the extremely challenging context in which they work. I was also struck by how much more paramedics could and should be doing to improve outcomes for patients and prevent admission to hospital, and how their closer collaboration with the other allied health professionals could be so productive in delivering the Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention (QIPP) agenda. So to the other AHPs – go and find a paramedic to start the discussion, and to the paramedics – please do collaborate with your other allied health professional colleagues.
Lastly, and perhaps the most exciting news, is the ministerial announcement to lay regulations before Parliament to allow physiotherapists and podiatrists to prescribe independently. Please do read the specific section in this bulletin about this announcement and read the FAQs on my website for further details. The announcement has been the result of years of very hard work from my team in collaboration with a whole range of stakeholders including patients, the professional bodies and the regulator. We have been successful because it will improve the quality of care these professionals can deliver.
There is clearly still a lot of work to do before we see the first podiatrists and physiotherapists actually trained in independent prescribing but this announcement is a significant moment in history.
Karen Middleton, Chief Health Professions Officer