The King’s Fund has collaborated with allied health professionals (AHPs) to produce and publish a framework for tackling health inequalities.
Entitled, ‘My role in tackling health inequalities: a framework for allied health professionals’, the 30-page guiding document supports and encourages AHPs to understand how they can raise awareness, take action and optimise advocacy through their roles.
Commissioned by Public Health England, as well as NHS England and Improvement, the piece also provides real-world examples of AHP-led work throughout.
Published on 17 June, the framework – which is written by Durka Dougall and David Buck and was contributed to by over 1,000 AHPs – focuses on key areas where AHPs can contribute, such as with: self; patients; clinical teams; pathway and service groups; communities and networks; systems; nurturing the future.
In a joint message to AHPs, the authors say that: “From small steps to big efforts, every person’s contributions will count, and together we know that we can make a difference to reducing health inequalities.”
According to the report, there are currently over 170,000 AHPs working in the UK, with the many roles included in the definition ranging from art therapists, music therapists and dieticians to osteopaths, paramedics, physiotherapists, radiographers, and speech and language therapists.
Describing health inequalities as “‘unfair and avoidable differences in health across populations and between different groups within society’ (The King’s Fund 2020)”, the framework lists poverty, low health literacy, homelessness and unemployment among contributing factors.
“You will have seen this in your own clinical practice,” it says, with these factors making it “harder for people to seek support, understand and engage with their care, navigate the various services that can help meet their needs, take preventive action early, and live life as healthily as possible for as long as possible.”
But, the authors add, “with your help, this can be changed…whatever our role, each of us can make a difference, whether that is about supporting an individual during a consultation, through influencing the design of services, or using our influence to advocate for wider change.”
Each area of the framework focuses on the three As: Awareness; Action; Advocacy; suggesting areas to look at and how to think about them differently.
Examples of current AHP work to tackle inequalities in health include the creation of AHP apprenticeships for local disadvantaged communities in north east London, the redesigning of the local orthotics service in Staffordshire and Stoke, the use of social media to help improve breast-screening rates by radiographers in the North Midlands, and neurologic music therapy on a major trauma ward.
For more examples, and to read the framework in full, visit Kingsfund.org.