Monday 14 October is international Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) Day where we celebrate who they are, what they do and why it's valuable.
To mark the occasion, we spoke with Safer Care Victoria’s Chief Allied Health Officer, Donna Markham.
What does the Chief Allied Health Officer do?
So much! Ultimately, I provide clinical leadership to Allied Health across Victoria. What does that mean? There are several quality and safety improvement initiatives that I lead. These are collaborative projects where I felt Allied Health could really lead change. For example, we are developing guidance to the sector on safe eating and drinking to avoid deaths related to choking.
We are also reviewing how we measure hip replacement readmission rates to see if we can make this more meaningful for clinicians and health service executives. I am also leading the review into chiropractic spinal care for children under 12, and the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board – I can’t tell you how professionally and personally rewarding these have been.
What is your vision for Allied Health?
Two major things, firstly, I want to shift the conversation and the narrative around who is Allied Health and what we do. I have been in the system a long time now and whilst I can certainly see improvements, I believe there is an opportunity right now for significant change. Allied Health plays a unique role across the system and the value and contribution we make to consumers cannot be overstated. I think we can really shift both the impact and influence we have on the system. This will take time but I believe things can look very different in 5-10 years.
Secondly, I want to see Allied Health being the leaders of significant quality and safety improvements. Delivering high quality, safe care and understanding improvement is what we do – so why not lead this at a system level?
I can’t do either of these things on my own, so strong connections and partnerships with practitioners at the clinical interface is critical.
What is your pledge on international Allied health professionals day?
My pledge is to work in partnership with Allied Health leaders and clinicians across Australia so that we can shift the story about Allied Health, who are we and the unique role we play.
We can be real system leaders – and to do this we need a strong narrative about the unique contribution that Allied health brings to the system.
I’d love to know what your pledge is! So, send me a tweet! @donnacmarkham
Tell us a little about yourself
I love the variety in my life. I’m privileged to work part time as the Chief Allied Health Officer for Safer Care Victoria. I also work one day a week as the Chief Allied Health Officer for the State-wide Equipment Program.
I have two beautiful boys at home who are 3.5 and 2 and we recently moved to the hills so we can connect with nature and be part of a lovely community to raise our family.