Allied Health Professions
The Allied Health Professions (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS. Most AHPs are degree level professions and are professionally autonomous practitioners.
AHPs can be found working across the NHS and in social care assessing, treating, diagnosing and supporting the discharge of patients. As well as the degree level roles there are also lots of support worker roles within AHP teams.
By using a holistic approach to healthcare, AHPs are able to help manage patients’ care throughout the life course from birth to palliative care. Their focus is on prevention and improvement of health and wellbeing to maximise the potential for individuals to live full and active lives within their family circles, social networks, education/training and the workplace.
The 15 allied health professions
Find out more about the 15 allied health professions by reading the sections on this page.
- Speech and language therapist
- Diagnostic radiographers
- Therapeutic radiographers
- Operating department practitioner
- Occupational therapist
- Prosthetist and orthotist
- Drama therapist
- Music therapist
- Art therapist
How much you might earn
Agenda for Change (AfC) is the current National Health Service (NHS) grading and pay system for most NHS staff.
A Universe of opportunities for your AHP career
This AHPs animation and careers resource “AHPs A Universe of Opportunities” by Health Education England (HEE) aims to inspire, motivate and unleash an often untapped talent amongst AHPs across the country.
Speech and Language Therapist
Speech and Language Therapists assess and treat a person with specific speech, language and communication problems to enable them to communicate to the best of their ability.
You’ll work directly with people of all ages. As AHPs, you’ll also work closely with parents, carers and other professionals, including teachers, nurses and occupational therapists.
Dietitians are qualified health professionals who work with individuals to improve their diet.
You play a substantial role in prevention, making sure people are following the right diet to prevent chronic conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, to mention a few.
You will be very skilled at translating scientific and medical research related to food and health into practical guidance for the general public.
You can work in a variety of settings with people who:
- have digestive problems
- want to lose weight
- need to put on weight after an illness
- have HIV
- have eating disorder
- want to improve their sports performance
- have allergies.
Diagnostic radiographers produce and process images of body structures to support the diagnosis of disease, skeletal and soft tissue abnormalities as a result of trauma or disease. Images are also produced to support and guide direct interventional treatments, procedures and therapies.
As a radiographer you will work directly with patients, supporting them before, during and after the imaging process. You’ll also work closely with the clinicians who request examinations and the radiologists who report on them.
A therapeutic radiographer is an AHP who has undergone specific training to be able to deliver radiotherapy for patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
The role of the therapeutic radiographer involves you managing the treatment pathway, providing the technical expertise and support while delivering accurate radiotherapy treatment. Your duties vary from performing a CT scan and being involved in treatment planning for the delivery of radiotherapy.
You will have expertise in the technology, the natural history of many cancers and in the human aspects of patient care – working with people going through worrying times. Your role, treatment techniques and the technology are constantly evolving, so you will never stop learning in this role.
Find out more on the NHS Health Careers website.
Operating Department Practitioner
An Operating Department Practitioner (ODP) is a vital part of the operating theatre team, in providing a high standard of care to patients of all ages, at every stage of their operation.
You work across three main areas within the operating theatre; anaesthetics, surgery and recovery, by providing individualised and skilled care for patients from the moment they arrive in the operating theatre department, to discharge from the recovery room. You’ll be responsible for preparing the environment and all of the necessary equipment in readiness for an anaesthetic, surgery or recovery of patients.
By gaining such a diverse set of skills, across lots of different areas within a clinical healthcare setting, you will acquire the essential experience and competence to progress within your career – the possibilities are endless!
Find out more on the NHS Health Careers website.
A Paramedic is trained to provide emergency medical care to people who are ill or injured. You can often be the first healthcare provider to arrive at the scene of an emergency, and you will play a crucial role in stabilising patients and transporting them to the hospital for further treatment.
You can work in a variety of settings including ambulances, hospitals, and emergency medical services (EMS) agencies. You must be able to think quickly, make sound decisions under pressure and work effectively in a team.
Paramedics provide a wide range of medical services. You’ll perform a variety of medical procedures, including basic life support, advanced life support and critical care transport.
Occupational Therapy is a very diverse profession where you work with individuals of all ages, abilities, disabilities and diagnosis who have had an injury or illness that has affected the way they perform their activities of daily living which may be their self-care, work leisure or all.
You will help patients restore function through purposeful activities to maximise their functional independence and get back to those daily activities as independently as possible.
Physiotherapists help patients with physical difficulties resulting from illness, injury, disability or ageing to restore and maximise their movement and reduce the risk of further problems arising in the future.
As well as treating patients, you will promote health and wellbeing alongside providing education and advice on how to avoid injury and self-manage long-term conditions. There are many clinical specialties and sub-specialties within physiotherapy which have grown over time.
Prosthetists and Orthotists
Prosthetists and Orthotists are tertiary qualified Allied Health Professionals who assess and treat the physical and functional limitations of people resulting from illnesses and disabilities, including limb amputations. You will be trained to prescribe, design, fit and monitor orthoses and prostheses that serves an individual’s requirements.
You can treat a wide variety of people such as children born with congenital limb deficiency or cerebral palsy, people who have had an amputation following an accident, people with muscular weakness after a stroke or spinal injury, people with diabetic foot ulcers or the elderly who have lost a limb as a result of vascular disease.
Find out more on the British Association of Prosthetists and Orthotists website and the NHS Health Careers website.
Podiatrists are medical specialists who help with problems that affect the feet and lower legs.
The study of anatomy and physiology of feet and lower legs as well as illnesses and injuries enable you to carry out diagnosis of conditions in the lower limbs, and to treat those conditions with surgery, if required. You can also treat injuries and complications from ongoing health issues like diabetes.
Orthoptists investigate, diagnose, monitor and manage eye movement disorder and visual impairments. This means you’ll also spot serious neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.
Collaborating with a team of eye specialists, you’ll be with patients every day, directly seeing the change in their quality of life when you treat their double vision or manage their squint.
Your role could involve assessing the vision of babies or helping patients who have suffered a stroke. You’ll also have the opportunity to work in a variety of places, from hospitals to schools.
Osteopaths are experts in the structure and function of the human body, specialising in the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.
You look at the wellbeing and health of an individual as being dependent on the proper and harmonious functioning of the body’s muscles, joints, ligaments and connective tissues, as well as acknowledging the influence of the vascular, nervous and immune systems.
Using a combination of manual techniques, exercises and lifestyle advice you’ll work to remove barriers to, and therefore assist the body in, repairing injuries and returning to optimal function and health. You may also provide treatment and advice to reduce the risk of future injuries and pain.
A Drama Therapist assesses a patient or client's mental health needs, consider approaches that would best serve those needs, and implement them in therapeutic sessions.
But unlike traditional therapists, who usually use talk therapy as the basis of their approach, you can use processes from the theatre, such as role-playing, storytelling and performance to pursue their therapeutic goals.
Drama therapy can have many different aims, including revealing something about a person’s inner life, providing them the freedom to experiment with different social roles, allowing them to tell their own stories, and helping them confront traumatic experiences, any of which can lead to achieving the required outcomes.
Music therapists are highly trained allied health professionals (AHPs), providing treatment that can help facilitate positive changes in emotional wellbeing and communication through the engagement in live musical interaction between client and therapist.
You may find yourself working in hospitals, schools, pupil referral units, day centres, hospices, care homes, therapy centres, prisons alongside a range of other professions to transform peoples lives.
Art therapists work with people to explore their emotions and feelings through art and creative activities.
You can help people to express themselves and build self-confidence using non-verbal approaches involving the use of a range of creative materials.
The role can provide the opportunity to support children and adults with:
- emotional and behavioural difficulties
- learning or physical disabilities
- life-limiting conditions
- mental ill health
- neurological conditions
- physical illnesses
- speech and language difficulties.