Introduction to allied health professionals (AHPs)

An introduction to allied health professionals and what they do

What are allied health professionals?

AHPs work with all age groups and within all specialities.  Their particular skills and expertise can be the most significant factor in helping people to:

  • recover movement or mobility
  • overcome visual problems
  • improve nutritional status
  • develop communication skills
  • restore confidence in everyday living skills

AHPs work in a range of surroundings including hospitals, people’s homes, clinics, surgeries and schools.

They work in partnership with health and social care colleagues across primary, secondary and social care, as well as in the independent and voluntary sectors.

Allied health professionals have to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). The HCPC is an independent, UK wide regulatory body responsible for protecting the public by setting and maintaining standards of professional training, performance and conduct of the healthcare professions it regulates.

To do this, they keep a register of health and care professionals who meet these standards. The HCPC protects professional titles and anyone who uses one of them must be HCPC registered.

What AHPs do

Here are some of the things allied health professionals do:

  • assess, diagnose, treat, discharge and/or refer patients to other services
  • teach, train and mentor other clinicians, students, patients and carers
  • develop extended clinical and practitioner roles which cross professional and organisational boundaries
  • liaise with other clinicians and provide specialist advice
  • play a central role in the promotion of health and wellbeing
  • take an active role in strategic planning and policy development for local organisations and services
  • undertake research and development 


Critical Appraisal Skills

Accessing research findings and journal articles relevant to our areas of interest and expertise is simplified by the use of databases and search engines. Developing skills to critically appraise these findings is not such an easy task requiring skills that must be learnt. A series of articles on how to read research papers and assess their quality can be accessed by visiting the BMJ website at the link below. 


PubMed is a web-based retrieval system developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Library of Medicine.

It is a database of bibliographic information drawn primarily from the life sciences literature and contains links to full-text articles at participating publishers' web sites as well as links to other third party sites such as libraries and sequencing centres.

Evidence based practice

Bandolier is an internet journal about health care, using evidence-based medicine techniques to provide advice about particular treatments or diseases for healthcare professionals and consumers. The content is 'tertiary' publishing, distilling the information from secondary reviews of primary trials and making it comprehensible.

The impetus behind Bandolier was to find information about evidence of effectiveness (or lack of it), and to put it forward as simple bullet-points of those things that worked and those things that didn't. A stimulus was a public health doctor saying that only seven things were known to be effective - an inherently improbable statement. The problem is that a simple bullet point is insufficient to get across much in the way of information, so we decided on an eight-page A4 format. Information was to come from systematic reviews of the literature, from effectiveness bulletins from York (which initially were not made generally available) from randomised controlled trials and from high quality case-control, cohort or observational studies.

Each month PubMed and the Cochrane Library are searched for systematic reviews and meta-analyses published in the recent past. Those that look remotely interesting are read, and where they are both interesting and make sense, they appear in Bandolier. 

Medical Library Queens University Belfast

The Medical Library provides a service to all health and personal social services staff in Northern Ireland but you must be registered and hold a library card. It is organised to supply the needs of many users who do not come to the library, it is unique within the university library system in functioning in this way.

Queries relating to a particular subject or field of research should be directed to the relevant subject librarian.

Health Management, Administration, Allied Health Professionals
Angela Thompson
tel: 028 9063 2645

Links to organisations who set professional standards

American College of Radiology
British Association and College of Occupational Therapists
British Dietetic Association
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy
Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
The Society and College of Radiographers

AHP publications

Improving health and wellbeing through positive partnerships

AHP events


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