Health Education England (HEE) recently launched a new strategy for embedding research and innovation into allied health and this opens up a host of opportunities for our Wolverhampton and Walsall colleagues.
The strategy was driven by the recognition in the NHS Long Term Plan that patients benefit enormously from research and innovation. This is about highlighting the critical importance of research to drive advancements in care and so, from an Allied Health Professional (AHP) perspective, an urgent need to accelerate the pace of growth and sustainability of our AHP research community.
To achieve this, the strategy directly addresses the need for relevant and appropriately differentiated support and development opportunities to be available to all AHPs. The strategy comprises a definitive collective national reference statement, broken down into three clear vision statements:
Focuses on the transformation of AHP professional identities, culture, and roles, which require the visibility of research role models and clear obtainable career pathways into research. The aim is to maximise the research skills of the AHP workforce to enhance service improvement.
Focuses on the delivery of excellence in evidence-based AHP practice, developing research-led services which add to the national database of knowledge.
Focuses on the introduction of national strategic research agendas and priorities that are explicitly inclusive of AHP research and innovation. To achieve this, there is a requirement for trusts to adopt AHP research roles, and to provide the required funding, infrastructure, and support to ensure the roles can thrive.
Interwoven throughout the visions are four main domains: Capacity, Capability, Context and Culture, with the key message being research is for everyone.
How is RWT responding to the new strategy?
RWT is piloting a new AHP research position with the aim of increasing AHP research output, supporting other staff into research, and creating a visible AHP research role model within the Trust alongside our non-medical research lead and clinical academics.
Dr Nicky Eddison, Associate Professor, will be seconded into this role from 1 March to work in collaboration with the Centre for Biomechanics and Rehabilitation Technologies, at Staffordshire University.
Other exciting initiatives to support this strategy include the launch of the new Community of Research Practice, which aims to create a network for all employees of RWT who work collaboratively to put research at the heart of healthcare to improve patient, family and staff outcomes and experiences.
A new research hub is also being developed which will provide RWT staff who have no research experience with the opportunity to get involved in a real research project and learn new skills, cementing the Trust’s commitment to ensure research is for everyone.
How is WHT responding to the new strategy?
Walsall staff are really excited at the prospect of implementing this strategy, and, while their AHP research agenda is not as progressed as RWT’s, they are keen to emulate and collaborate with their colleagues in building a culture of research for AHPs that will improve services for patients and increase career satisfaction for our practitioners.
An implementation working group has been formed with the relevant AHP leadership, education and research and development (R&D) teams, with the aim of working together to operationalise the strategic vision set out by HEE.
They are aiming to map out the organisational changes required to create an education and training system that is evidence based and underpinned by research and innovation, building the capacity and capability of our current and future workforce to embrace and actively engage with research and innovation.