What is the Allied Health and Therapy Network?

We have multiple, unashamedly grand, aims. The Allied Health and Therapy Network (AHTN) is the first membership organisation to bring together multiple independent allied health practitioners, psychology and key education professions in one public search engine with a members-only area offering clinical and business information and benefits to our members. 

Our primary function is to provide a platform where our professional members can connect with each-other and work in a multi-disciplinary fashion, thereby helping their clients who have multiple needs achieve their best outcomes. Members listed on the AHTN search directory can remain invisible to the public, should they so choose, but still be visible to each-other using our specially developed search engine. This means, no matter whether actively seeking new clients or not, they can still reach out to other professionals in order to develop multidisciplinary networks by establishing regular communication and cross-referral systems with each-other. This ensures that all experts involved are in a better position to be aware of each other's therapy plans, liaise with each-other about overlapping targets (with client consent) and ultimately adhere to best-practice health service standards. This also gives them the opportunity to facilitate their individual business growth by having a trusted colleague/s who refer clients regularly to to each-other. 

We provide a search engine for members of the public to contact those of our members who choose to be visible to the public. Our members are qualified, experienced therapists from a broad range of different health, psychology and education professions. The Allied Health and Therapy Network aspires to be a stress free and convenient way to find a multidisciplinary team for members of the public and their loved ones. 

Currently, finding a therapist for a loved one in the UK can be time-consuming and difficult, necessitating multiple web or directory searches. The AHTN search directory provides a centralised search engine to find therapists virtually and in-person, taking the hassle out of finding support. The allied health professionals on our platform are fully qualified to work with all ages. Trust assured, they are registered with a regulatory body such as the Health Care Professional Council (HCPC) and we have verified our members’ status. 

International colleagues:

Additionally we also recognise and invite our international colleagues to become members. This means, if someone has a first language other than English, we hope it will be more likely they will easily be able to find someone who can support them in their first language through AHTN. As with our UK qualified and based members we verify our international members credentials and qualifications. We feel that having international colleagues on our platform will also increase the range of support that may be available to members of the public searching for specialists in specific interventions.

Students:

The Allied Health and Therapy Network recognises students are the future of the allied health and education professions. It is important for students to see an existing model of healthcare and education professionals working in a collaborative, multidisciplinary manner as this will sow the seeds of multidisciplinary practice in the next generation of health and education professions1

Equally important is the need for students and new graduates to recognise the different opportunities that may be available to them as they graduate and start out in their careers. One sector, public or private, is not better than the other. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages. 

Healthcare students typically require clinical placements during their qualifications and relying on the public services for this has become increasingly unachievable. Private, specialist clinics must also have a role to play in providing placements2. By having a student membership, the Allied Health and Therapy Network have a medium term aim to forge relationships between universities and independent practices who can offer additional student placements and opportunities. 

Public and Private Sector:

One of our longer term aims is to facilitate harmonious working relationships between the public and private sectors. We therefore invite our public sector colleagues to join the network. For too long we feel there has been a disconnect between the public and independent sectors, often leading to less efficient working practices where a client has support from therapy teams in both sectors.  

Self-employment is becoming more popular among allied health professions due to a number of factors. For those public sector therapists who are thinking of making the move into private practice (either in a limited or full time capacity) we want them to have a supportive network around them as they first anticipate, and then finally make, that move. We want them to see beforehand, through their membership with the Allied Health and Therapy Network, that working independently need not mean working in isolation. Nor that working independently means severing ties with their public sector colleagues. 

Whether our members are private practitioners or public sector therapists, being a member of the Allied Health and Therapy Network benefits them clinically. We understand that public sector therapists are not going to want to be on the AHTN public search directory. However, they will benefit from AHTN’s online CPD Diary, our institutional journal subscription, access to AHTN’s training and resource discounts. Not to mention the insight and increased understanding they will get from knowing:

a) the considerations private practitioners have to think about on a daily basis and; b) that independent practitioners have the same goals and aspirations as public sector therapists do - positive client outcomes. 

Due to the ever evolving health and social care landscape there is now, more than ever, a growing need for independent services. Waitlists for public services have been long for some time and the pandemic has impacted public service wait times even more. According to a recent report, a record 6.1 million people are waiting to start treatment (to the end of December 2021; the highest number since 2007 when records began) and Health Secretary Sajid Javid has recently admitted that the number of people waiting will continue to rise until 2024 (source: news.upday.com, 13.02.2022). Many families simply need to seek support in the private sector while they wait, or to supplement the support they can get from the public sector. Therefore there is an increasing need for collaboration between the two sectors.

There should be no need for anyone to think that public or independent sector is better or worse than the other. All public sector and private practice therapists are registered with the same professional standards bodies as each-other. They’ve studied for, and qualified with, the same professional qualifications. They must demonstrate the same Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and supervision requirements to continue practicing. Many independent health professionals have themselves been employed previously in the public sector. Some continue to work in both sectors simultaneously. Furthermore, the AHTN team have verified all members' credentials. Therapists who do not meet the requirements to join the network are not permitted to do so. 

Simply put, what is needed is more accessible collaboration options and pathways between professionals in the independent sector and between public, private and educational sectors. Ultimately, that’s where Allied Health and Therapy Network (AHTN) hopes to bridge the current gaps.

 

💡 Where the idea started?

During the pandemic, the notion of Allied Health and Therapy Network was formally conceived. Working from home grew increasingly isolated and it became difficult to connect with other individuals, let alone experts, in the same or related fields of employment. There appeared to be no wider community for allied health professionals to network and seek support from each-other within the wider allied health/ education professional community. 

Even prior to the pandemic, colleagues and peers had discovered that finding other therapists with different areas of knowledge in the independent sector could be more difficult than it should be. Therefore this system was flawed as it did not support a collaborative approach. The purpose of a collaborative approach is to facilitate and ensure the best outcomes for our clients – multidisciplinary teams, needed when a client has multiple needs, are considered to offer the best outcomes for clients 3, 4. Working in a multidisciplinary manner also provides benefits for the practitioners which outweigh any potential barriers to working in this way5

In addition to developing a system that supports a collaborative working model among allied health and education professionals in the independent sector, in the context of the growing independent health sector the Allied Health and Therapy Network (AHTN) strives to assist this group of professionals in the development of their businesses and clinical practices using a member-centric approach. 

The founders: Who are we? 

The Allied Health and Therapy Network is founded by two speech and language therapists at different stages of their career. 

After graduating from the University of Reading in 2019, Francesca worked in a specialist school for young people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC). She continued to develop her career beyond her initial role and is currently working as a Speech and Language Therapist across mainstream primary and secondary specialist schools in London, with a diverse range of ages and speech, language and communication needs (SLCN). She has a special interest, and is developing a specialism in, Social Emotional Mental Health (SEMH) needs. On her weekends she also tutors children with Dyslexia. 

John graduated in 2008 and has since worked across a variety of settings, including specialist provision, multidisciplinary diagnostic teams, clinics and delivering school provision. After spending a number of years in the NHS he established his own London-based private practice, specialising in delivering school-based provision. His company continues to expand with his growing team of speech and language therapists across London and the surrounding counties. He continues to manage his UK based company but is now living between the UK and his homeland of New Zealand, focusing more on supervising his staff in the UK. While in New Zealand he has taken on a new role specialising in supporting people of all ages who stutter, something he aspired to for a number of years. Throughout his career he has enjoyed liaising with other professional colleagues and noticed the benefits of this when achieved, but recognised there was no established pathway of achieving collaboration between different professional groups within the private sector. This was often left to individual therapists and teams to figure out, with inconsistent degrees of success. 

During the second national lockdown in January 2021, Francesca and John teamed up because they had a common idea of establishing a network that would connect different professionals who often work together. Their initial aim was to provide a multifaceted platform to support business growth and begin connecting professionals across their professional domains. Since the inception of the idea of the Allied Health and Therapy Network, as can be seen from what’s outlined above, the idea has grown significantly.

They understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day and there’s lots of hard yards in front of them. But where there is ambition, there is a way. 


1 Smith, T., Brown., L., & Cooper, R. (2020). A Multidisciplinary Model of Rural Allied Health Clinical-Academic Practice: A Case Study. Journal of Allied Health, 38(4), 236-241.

2 Skinner, E., Haines, K., Hayes, K., Seller, D., Toohey, J., Reeve, J., Holdsworth, C., & Haines, T. (2015). Future of specialised roles in allied health practice: who is responsible? Australian Health Review, 39(3), 255-259. DOI: 10.1071/AH14213

3 Kelly, S., Jackson, J., Hickey, B., Szallasi, F., & Bond, C. (2020). Multidisciplinary clinic care improves adherence to best practice in head and neck cancer. American Journal of Otolaryngology, 34(1), 57-60.

4 van der Marck, M., kalf, J., Sturkenboom, I., Nijkrake, M., Munneke., M., & Bloem, B. (2009). Multidisciplinary care for patients with Parkinson's disease. Parkinson & Related Disorders, 15(3), 219-223. DOI: 10.1016/S1353-8020(09)70819-3

5 Nicholson, D., Artz, S., Armitage, A., & Fagan, J. (2000). Working Relationships and Outcomes in Multidisciplinary Collaborative Practice Settings. Child & youth care forum, (29), 39-73.


What is the Allied Health and Therapy Network?