Swann announces increase in AHP undergraduate places

Date published: 30 June 2020

Health Minister Robin Swann has today announced a significant increase in the number of undergraduate training places for Allied Health Professionals (AHP).

Commencing in September, an additional 40 training places will be secured from Ulster University across the pre-registration training programmes for Physiotherapy; Occupational Therapy; Speech and Language Therapy; and Diagnostic Radiography.

This expansion increases the annual intake across all the AHP programmes commissioned by the Department to 285 places.

Minister Swann said: “Since becoming Minister of Health I have been clear on my commitment to ensure that Health and Social Care has the workforce it needs to continue providing excellent care and deliver on the future transformation of services. Each Allied Health Profession makes a significant contribution to delivering on these objectives and I am delighted to announce this important investment.”

The decision to commission additional pre-registration AHP training places has taken account of a range of relevant factors, including: strategic priority; current vacancy rates; previous cuts in core commissioning numbers; service pressures; as well as the evidence gained through the Department’s recent programme of regional, strategic workforce reviews across all 13 AHP professions. Consideration has also been given to the ability of services to deliver quality training clinical placements for the professions in question.

The Minister concluded: “Allied Health Professionals provide vital services including helping to reduce the length of hospital stays, assisting in managing patient flow and discharge from hospitals, and supporting education in special schools.  Bringing an additional 40 undergraduates through to training will have a significant impact on our delivery of services and I wish all well for the future.”


Notes to editors: 

1. The following additional training places have been secured:  20 Physiotherapy; 10 Diagnostic Radiography; 5 Speech and Language Therapy; 5 Occupational Therapy.

2. There are 13 Allied Health Professions:

  •  Physiotherapy
  •  Occupational Therapy
  •  Speech and Language Therapy
  • Dietetics
  • Podiatry
  • Prosthetics
  •  Radiography (Diagnostic and Therapeutic)
  • Orthoptists
  • Orthotists
  • Art Therapists
  • Drama Therapists
  •  Music Therapists
  • Paramedics

3. The 2020/21 commissions would be as follows:


















  •  As at 30 September 2019 there were 7,394 registered* Allied Health Professionals in Northern Ireland, with 71% working in HSC organisations (5, 230). [*registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, the regulator of Allied Health Professions]. In addition the temporary Covid-19 register for AHPs (excluding students) included 469 NI professionals at 1 May 2020.
  • The cost of providing the additional 40 places is £0.292m in 2020/21, with a full-year effect of £0.44m.

4.For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk

5. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.


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