Claire Granato is the Chief Allied Health Professional at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Allied Health Professionals Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme. She explains why it’s not just medical professionals who need to input into plans for new hospital facilities.
There are 14 disciplines that sit under the umbrella term of Allied Health Professionals. These are: art therapists, drama therapists, music therapists, chiropodists and podiatrists, dieticians, occupational therapists, operating department practitioners, orthoptists, osteopaths, prosthetists and orthotists, paramedics, physiotherapists, diagnostic radiographers and therapeutic radiographers and speech and language therapists.
We have all ten of the professions which are found within hospital settings at Royal Preston Hospital, which sits within Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Lancaster Infirmary, which sits within University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust. Art therapists, drama therapists and music therapists are usually found outside of hospital settings and paramedics work within the North West Ambulance Trust.
Allied Health Professionals are integral to the diagnosis, recovery and rehabilitation of many patients. You will find them in every patient journey, from people living with long term conditions like type 1 diabetes, to recovering war veterans, those with planned surgeries and those who have had accidents. We work together with the wider health care team to support many patients across the hospital sites.
Author: Claire Granato, the Chief Allied Health Professional at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Allied Health Professionals Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria New Hospitals Programme.
Read more about the shortlist of proposals for new hospital facilities in our region.
The very specialist areas of expertise which fall under Allied Health Professionals can often be overlooked. They’re not usually the first thing people think of when they think about what happens inside hospital buildings.
However, by their nature, these areas of expertise require a lot of space, specialist equipment and access to computers within patient areas. Many of these things are just not possible with the hospitals in their current form and this creates limitations to the care we can provide.
We often have to be very creative to provide treatments which fit within the limitations of our facilities. In fact, we’re so limited for space at the moment in some areas that we’ve actually converted cupboards into offices for our teams. New hospital facilities would change everything.
Improving access to health and care services is the ultimate goal. We don’t want patients attending several different appointments with different experts in different areas of the hospital; we want to work towards a ‘one-stop shop’ for care.
With more care available in the community and single appointments for patients where all experts were present, we’d be able to reduce waiting times and visits to hospital. For example, take a patient with an upper gastrointestinal cancer attending pre-op clinic; we’d aim to have the consultant, anaesthetist, specialist nurse, physiotherapist and dietician all in one place and allow the patient to see everyone at once.
This is especially important since this patient may have travelled from Barrow to Preston for their appointment. This ‘one-stop shop’ approach, combined with new technologies such as remote monitoring for their prehab (pre-surgery) stage will be invaluable.
When patients do come into hospital, we want spaces to be designed and built with flexibility in mind. Spaces that can be multipurpose with movable walls would be a huge help. For example, physiotherapy space that can be divided into consultation areas for face-face or remote appointments but then opened out to deliver a class or group session.
If we had the technology and environment to set up remote and app-based patient tracking, it could benefit the Allied Health Professionals in many ways:
Finally, many Allied Health Professionals are active in research programmes. With new hospitals, we’d have a purpose-built estate and access to cutting edge treatments and technologies. This would open up the possibilities of research for us as well, ultimately meaning more options and better experiences for patients.
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