Reviewing Allied Health – no longer the back seat driver

Sue Fitzpatrick1

1Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, Port kembla, Australia

The value of allied health is strongly recognised in health literature, however, this recognition is not readily translated to the prioritisation and utilisation of allied health at local health system levels.

Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District underwent an external review of the two largest hospitals in the district.  The rationale for the review was to examine staffing and utilisation, allied health’s role in facilitating patient flow and allied health governance systems. 54 recommendations were made across a range of jurisdictions which were accepted allied health and executive members.

Allied health efficiency should be in the hands of allied health clinicians and leaders. This paper details the process of planning and performing a formal review of allied health and the process of implementing recommended changes. Ownership of the review process and embracing recommended changes was the most important part of evidencing efficiency and in driving new changes in clinical work and clinical governance.

Changes to date include an all of allied health triaging system, sarcopenia program, stroke interdisciplinary assessments and a malnutrition pathway. Enabling allied health across all professions and levels was a significant facilitator of acceptance and innovation following the release of the review report.

This paper will detail the process of the review from choice of reviewers, to provision of information to the reviewers, the review process, report and implementation of the recommendations. Reflection on the process is key to the lessons learnt and the need to have allied health in the driver’s seat when examining systems and processes.

The outcomes of the review process will include what worked well and pitfalls of the process and includes the good, the bad and the contentious. The lessons from the review process take allied health from back seat to front and driving the road to demonstrating efficiency and innovation in the healthcare environment.

Philip, K (2015). Allied health: untapped potential in the Australian health system. Australian Health Review 244-247.


Sue has a background as a speech pathologist. Sue completed a doctor of health science in 2016 in clinical supervision in allied health and currenlty works as the executive director of allied health the illawarra shoalhaven region on the south cost of New South Wales. Sue is interested in collaborative leadership and building leadership capacity in allied health professionals.

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