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Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) research day!

A room full of people are sitting watching a presenter who is standing in front of a screen and talking.
30 October 2023

Did you know that Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) are the third largest workforce in the NHS? The work of AHPs is hugely varied and focuses on improving individuals’ health and wellbeing so that the children and young people we support can live full and active lives and – most importantly – do more of the things they love.

Some of the AHP teams we have at Sheffield Children’s include Occupational Therapists, Music Therapists, Physiotherapists, Radiographers, Dieticians, Operating Department Practitioners’, Orthoptists, Drama Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists, with AHP Support Workers working alongside them. We couldn’t care for our patients without them!

Our teams work in a holistic way which means you can find them in all kinds of settings out in the community, and in some of our specialist sites across Sheffield such as Ryegate, Flockton and Centenary, as well as at our hospital.

To celebrate AHP day which took place this October, Deborah Rowley – Acting Deputy AHP Lead, Mandy Higginbottom – Lead AHP and Quality Improvement Director, and Kate Ellis – AHP Support Worker Lead organised a special event for our AHP colleagues which focused all on research.

Nearly 100 people joined the event throughout the day, which was brilliant! We were treated to a guest talk from external key note speaker Marilyn Bradbury, who is a Paediatric Physiotherapist and currently a Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Sheffield Hallam University came to talk more about the research opportunities available with them, and we also heard from a number of Sheffield Children’s AHP colleagues and AHP Support Workers who have led on exciting research in their roles, and who have forged careers combining work as AHPs alongside research qualifications such as PhDs.

Deborah said: “Today has been all about celebrating what we’re doing well already, encouraging more AHP colleagues and AHP Support Workers to get involved with research, and creating an inspiring environment for colleagues. We’d really like to build on this by creating a ‘community for research’ so that colleagues who are interested know where to start and how to make connections that will support their ideas.”

The importance of connection was a significant part of Marilyn’s talk too. She said: “The main thing I’d like people to take away from my talk is that collaboration is really important when you’re researching – finding people who can help that are in positions to assist you is crucial. It’s been a real pleasure to come and talk in Sheffield about the work we’re doing in Birmingham. We’re also still very much on a journey ourselves and we’re growing our AHP research all the time. It’s been lovely to reconnect with people I’ve not seen for a long time today and also to meet people who have been participating in my studies who I’ve never seen in person!”

Jenny Thomas, who is Physiotherapist in the Neuro-oncology team at Sheffield Children’s, had two research posters up at the event – one about family centred care on our neonatal surgical unit, and another about the impact of combining hip hop with physiotherapy treatment! Both the posters have been shared in conferences across the country as well as at our event.

Jenny said: “These are the first research posters that I’ve worked on and I’m really pleased with how they’ve gone. We created them because we wanted to disseminate the information of our work and the brilliant results we’ve seen. We also wanted to inspire professionals to do things differently and to embrace innovation. The posters have been great at events because people come up to you and talk to you and it’s a helpful way to make connections with others. My favourite moment from our Sheffield event today has been learning more about people’s different journeys into research – that’s been really interesting.”

A huge thank you to everyone who attended and presented at this event. We’re excited to see what will come next!


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