Celebrating AHP Day 

Collage of NBT staff members

Colleagues across North Bristol NHS Trust are celebrating Allied Health Professional Day – a day to say thank you and celebrate the incredible work of our AHPs who continue to make a real difference to the lives of our patients, their families and our community.

Allied Health Professionals are the third largest workforce within the NHS. They provide a range of diagnostic, technical, therapeutic, and support services enabling recovery and enhancing the lives of so many.

Today, we're showcasing the amazing work and skills of our AHPs - have a read about their roles, why they choose them, what makes them proud and the best moments they’ve had, in the profiles below. 

Do you know someone aged between 14-19 who is interested in a career in the health or care sector? An Allied Health Professionals Careers Day is taking place on 15 October at the UHBW Education Centre between 10.30am-4.30pm. Find out more here: https://eventbrite.co.uk/e/allied-health-professionals-ahp-careers-day-for-14-19-year-olds-tickets-411172266317

Photo of Claire Walker, Occupational Therapist

If you were describing your job to someone who had no knowledge of your role what would you say you do? 

It is a perfect balance of science, innovation, problem-solving and client centred intervention! We assess patients throughout their life span and our scope of practice includes, independence in self-care, functional activities, strength, coordination, cognition, range of motion and safe discharge from hospital. We enable people to live their life to the fullest regardless of injury, illness or disability. On the surgical team at NBT, we specialise in burns and plastics, vascular (amputees) and general surgery. The interventions we provide range from creating thermoplastic splints for an acute burns patient to prevent loss of range of movement, provision of wheelchairs for new amputees to palliative support for those nearing end of life. So as you can see, Occupational therapy is for everyone.

What drove you to become an Occupational Therapist? 

Occupational therapy is underpinned by evidence based practice with over 100 years of history, I became an occupational therapist to support quality of life for all, and to be part of a team of people with the same motivation.

In 3 words describe your role/job. 

Enabling, rewarding, empathy.

Photo of Alex Tam, Diagnostic Radiographer

If you were describing your job to someone who had no knowledge of your role what would you say you do?

Patients need to find out the cause of their symptoms so they can be given treatment that will work the best. Diagnostic imaging is one way for us to understand what disease is inside the body, alongside lots of other tests. For some aspects of disease, imaging is the only way to detect them - so we play a vital role in medicine.

As a diagnostic radiographer, I am responsible for getting these images. There are many ways to take images and they all require precise operation of imaging equipment such as scanners, probes and X-ray generators. Patients are often anxious or in pain so we try to keep them as comfortable as possible. Diagnostic imaging is a game changer for many patients and it is not surprising that it is one of the fastest developing fields of medicine.

What’s the best thank you, you’ve had from a patient or colleague? 

The best thank you, I've had was from a patient who was having an MRI scan for a stroke but was very claustrophobic about being inside the scanner. We went to great lengths to work with her to get these important images and she was able to complete the scan. She said that the care we provided was excellent and she wouldn't have been able to undergo the scan without us. I really felt like we made a difference to her care.

In 3 words describe your role/job. 

Imaging, Diagnosis, Technology

Photo of Lauren Chapman, Operating Department Practitioner

If you were describing your job to someone who had no knowledge of your role what would you say you do?

Every Batman needs a Robin, and an ODP is just that! As an ODP I have been trained in all three areas of a patient's surgical journey including anaesthetics, scrub and recovery. On the anaesthetic side, we prepare everything for the anaesthetist and ensure equipment is safe to use, and everything they require for their patients is there ready to use.

ODP’s are there to provide the support to the anaesthetist and utilise our knowledge to work through algorithms and problem solving, we are always one step ahead ensuring that we have the piece of equipment required is already in our hands before the anaesthetists have even asked for it. 

On the scrub side, we are responsible for all the kit and equipment required for surgery. ODPs learn their surgical speciality and all steps of the surgery we are scrubbed for, ensuring we know what the surgeon is going to ask for next before they even ask! ODPs scrub for all variety of specialities including life changing cancer surgery, emergency life saving surgery and even being there when parents welcome their babies to the world.

We are also there when the surgery is complete, an ODP may recover you postoperatively, monitoring your vital signs and conducting a A-E check to monitor the patients phases of recovery. But most importantly, we are there for the patient, we make sure that you are reorientated and feel safe, knowing there’s someone friendly around to answer your questions and hold your hands if you need it.

What do you love about your role/profession? 

I love working under pressure and being in an environment that can change so quickly. As an ODP I am continuously thinking 1 step ahead and have to react fast to emergency situations. I’m always keen to learn something new and with this job, that’s always the case! My knowledge of the role, environment and surgical specialities I work in, support me in being a skilled, reliable and organised practitioner. My favourite thing about the role is patient interaction, my interactions and conversations I have can make a huge difference on the patients overall experience. They might not always remember my role or who I am, but as long as the patients feel safe, heard and comfortable during the anaesthetic phase, then I know I have made an impact that day. I’m incredible proud to do the job I do, it really is the best job you’ve probably never heard of!

In 3 words describe your role/job. 

Reliable, knowledgeable and thrives under pressure

Photo of Shani Ackford, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist

If you were describing your job to someone who had no knowledge of your role what would you say you do?

I am an AAC Speech Therapist.  I specialise in assessing people who have little to no functional speech and supporting them to use other forms of communication that we call AAC.  AAC is Augmentative and Alternative Communication and includes anything from gestures and paper symbols, to complex communication books and electronic communication aids.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is that I get to give people a voice, and this allows people to show their personalities and take control.  We get to see children directing their parent in play, or saying ‘mum I love you’ for the first time, and we set up people with degenerating conditions with devices that allow them to keep communicating.  I also get to see everyone from  ages 2-99!

In 3 words describe your role/job.

Complex, fun and rewarding.

Photo of Suzanne Ford, Dietitian

If you were describing your job to someone who had no knowledge of your role what would you say you do?

My job is helping people with rare inborn errors of metabolism to treat their lifelong conditions with diet and often that is the only treatment available to help avoid irreversible and serious ill-health – the dietary treatments are complex and not well understood, so lots of support is needed for each patient, and there are times this intensifies such as during pregnancy or illness.  Regular monitoring of blood biochemistry and dietary modifications are needed, as well as maintaining motivation and ensuring highly specialist prescribable product access at all times.

What makes you proud of the job you do?  

My patients make me proud with the incredible things they achieve – I respect and admire their capacity to juggle complex treatments and live fulfilling lives.

In 3 words describe your role/job.

Informing, inspiring, supporting

Image of a group of staff members sat at a table

If you were describing your job to someone who had no knowledge of your role what would you say you do? 

Caitlin - I’m a prosthetist/orthotist, in prosthetics I provide, fit and align artificial limbs and in orthotics I fit insoles, specialist shoes, splints and braces such as spinal braces and ankle foot orthosis.

Alex - I'm a prosthetist/orthotist, so I mainly work with a lot of feet and knees whether they are manufactured or not. We work to fit people with a wide range of prosthetics and braces.
What makes you proud of the job you do?  

Caitlin - I like working with a diverse group of people. It is always nice to fit someone with something that will help them even a small amount with their everyday life.

Alex - I like meeting and helping a wide range of people as much as I can.

In 3 words describe your role/job. 

Caitlin - Gait, comfort and alignment

Alex – Busy, varied, exciting


Chris Flower, Outpatient Cancer Physiotherapist

If you were describing your job to someone who had no knowledge of your role what would you say you do?

If I were to describe my job, I would say that I help people who have been affected by cancer to regain strength, movement and an ability to do the things that are important to them in life.

What’s the best thank you you’ve had from a patient or colleagues?  

The best thank you that I have had from a patient was from a patients wife; she had made a point to come in to express how much of an improvement she had seen in her husbands confidence and mood. He had been through surgery and chemotherapy for a germ cell cancer, but had managed to return to his job leading an adventure kayaking and mountain biking business. This was from a point where he was barely able to walk further than 100m before having to sit.

In 3 words describe your role/job.

Assessing, supporting, progressive