Recruitment and retention issues in occupational therapy have been the subject of significant concern for many years. There is a small evidence base which suggests that satisfaction, professional development opportunities, career development pathways, supervision and the positive aspects of an individual’s role may impact positively on the occupational therapy workforce (Scanlan et al, 2010). It is suggested that factors leading to poor retention specific to the occupational therapy profession include lack of role definition, poorly perceived professional prestige, the negative influence of generic work, inadequate professional support or continuing education, stress, and burnout.
The HEE south London team set up an AHP network to support workforce and education planning processes, and to generate an understanding of the issues specific to the therapy professions. HEE south London have engaged through the workforce planning process and the AHP forum with a large cross section of occupational therapy service managers and various senior professionals, who provided data to help explore the following issues:
- Reported problems recruiting bands 6, 7 and 8a
- Reported problems with retention, specifically with Band 5 occupational therapists
- Reported specific recruitment, retention and workforce issues in Mental Health and Paediatrics
- Job design and lack of CPPD opportunities that could be negatively impacting this workforce
- Support for adding occupational therapy to the shortage profession immigration list