How will the Minister ensure that the work of occupational therapists is taken into consideration in the review of both the social work workforce and strategic programme on primary care?
The newly formed Allied Health Professional (AHP) Professional Collaboratives, as part of the Accelerated Cluster Development (ACD) programme will provide advice on the AHP workforce, including occupational therapy, to clusters and Regional Partnership Boards. The Strategic Programme for Primary Care’s ‘Primary and Community Care AHP Workforce Guidance’ sets out principles for the deployment of AHPs, including occupational therapists. The Welsh Government’s National Workforce Implementation Plan for NHS Wales requires Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) to use this guidance to organise how AHPs work in integrated services.
In January 2023, to demonstrate my commitment to community teams, I announced a £5 million investment for the NHS to create additional community and primary based registered Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) and support worker posts which includes occupational therapists. This is to increase the capacity of AHPs as an integral, but underutilised, part of community teams. The Strategic Programme for Primary Care will provide support for this work.
In relation to the social care occupational therapy workforce, in early May we published our Social Care Delivery Plan 2023-2026 for a consultation period which will inform the next phase of delivery of our Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care. This sets out our proposed actions to support the social care, social work and occupational therapy workforce over the next three years. This gives all stakeholders and professionals the opportunity to respond to the priorities proposed.
Occupational therapy training in Wales is commissioned by HEIW. The requirements for local authorities’ social care occupational therapy workforce are collected by Social Care Wales and shared with HEIW to inform the total education commissioning numbers for Wales.