Allied health professionals have had, and will continue to play, a key role in the public health agenda. The focus on outcomes, with the development of the Public Health Outcomes Framework, will help AHPs to show how they add value while delivering public health services in a cost-effective manner. At a time of financial pressures it is essential to use system reform as an opportunity to embed key messages and provide data and evidence of impact.
Key areas that AHPs can and do make a difference in delivering against the Public Health Outcomes framework include supporting children to be ‘school ready’, making every contact count, improving health for older adults and emotional well-being. The challenge is capturing the right data to provide evidence of impact. It is also important to understand the difference between inputs, outputs and outcomes.
Allied health professionals should ask themselves the following questions in respect to public health:
What do you do or plan to do?
What difference will that make to your patients/service users/families/carers and the wider workforce?
Why should it matter to commissioners, budget holders and others (in a language they can relate to)?
For example, the Public Health England outcomes framework has children in poverty and school readiness as placeholders (which are outcomes that are currently being developed). Speech and language therapy services can use these placeholders to show how they can support commissioners to deliver against them.
The work undertaken by Stoke on Trent’s SLT led “Stoke Speaks Out” early years campaign highlights how collecting data can show the value and impact of speech and language therapy in universal services. This project reduced the percentage of 3-4 year olds with language delay from 64% in 2004 to 39% in 2010.
Allied health professionals already perform a great deal of public health work as part of their roles. It is now a question of communicating achievements in a way that commissioners, budget holders and decision makers will recognise.
Kamini Gadhok MBE is Chief Executive Officer for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists