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Important role of allied health professionals during the pandemic is often overlooked

Important role of allied health professionals duri
Photo: Important role of allied health professionals during the pandemic is often overl....
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the health profession well and truly into the spotlight, however the primary focus remains on traditional medical workers, such as doctors and nurses.

But according to Claire Hewat, Chief Executive Officer of Allied Health Professionals Australia, the allied health sector is often overlooked.

“Most people think of doctors and nurses when they think of healthcare, but allied health professionals have been working on the frontline in hospitals in Australia’s response to COVID-19 and adapting to new methods of service delivery in primary care,” she said.

From the ICU to community-based rehabilitation, allied health professionals have an important role to play in physical and mental recovery for COVID-19 survivors.

“Australia’s allied health professionals make up a third of Australia’s health workforce, making them the essential third pillar of our healthcare system,” said Ms Hewat.
“They play an important role in primary care and in the prevention of chronic and complex conditions that pose the greatest health threats for Australians.

“In hospital settings, their work is vital for the success of many medical and surgical interventions.”

The allied health workforce includes a range of professionals, providing services to both the health system and beyond, including disability, aged care, education, and social services.

It is estimated that these professionals deliver more than 200 million services to Australians each year.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, allied health professionals have worked against the odds to deliver services both in the hospital system but also in the community in face of extended and severe lock downs,” said Ms Hewat.

“Allied health professionals are now standing shoulder to shoulder with nurses and doctors to undertake testing and vaccination duties.

“They have comprehensively embraced telehealth and are now bracing to shoulder the burden of delayed general care and COVID19 recovery.”

Ms Hewat said she expected an increased in demand for allied health services as Australia dealt with the longstanding impact of COVID-19, particularly rehabilitation and mental health services.

“This will include people recovering from coronavirus and also the backlog of cases from health services that were put on hold for the acute pandemic response,” said Ms Hewat.

“Allied health professionals provide more than ‘healthcare’ and ‘treatment’ in a medical sense.

They’re integral to maintaining the wellbeing of Australians. By addressing risk factors for chronic diseases, providing education and self-care techniques, and supporting rehabilitation and maintenance of functionality, allied health professionals provide the essence of ‘person-centred care’ that goes beyond medical
treatment.”

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Nicole Madigan

Nicole Madigan is a widely published journalist with more than 15 years experience in the media and communications industries.

Specialising in health, business, property and finance, Nicole writes regularly for numerous high-profile newspapers, magazines and online publications.

Before moving into freelance writing almost a decade ago, Nicole was an on-air reporter with Channel Nine and a newspaper journalist with News Limited.

Nicole is also the Director of content and communications agency Stella Communications (www.stellacomms.com) and a children's author.