This concluding chapter considers the policy and practice implications of the preceding chapters. Despite the prolific use of the term 'allied health', the analysis brings the reader no closer to a unifying definition of the confederation of allied health professions. It is clear that allied health professionals are distinct from medicine and nursing; however, those professional boundaries are beginning to blur as allied health professions take on traditional medical roles, such as prescribing and point-of-care testing. Despite their largely successful professionalisation strategies, the allied health professions still face many challenges in influencing service delivery in a way that optimises the use of their services. Despite many common origins to both the Australian and UK health systems, the divergence of the two systems after the Second World War created some significantly different contexts for the evolution of allied health. A defining feature of the UK NHS is the provision of almost all personal care through the health and social care portfolios. These portfolios help to create a singular definition of 'health' and 'social care', and, with few exceptions, most allied health is provided within the 'health' portfolio. The Australian system, in contrast, is highly pluralistic and there is no legislatively endorsed central recognition of or endorsement for the collective allied health professions. It remains likely that the allied health professions must continue to assume that to be a professional means to act professionally, to observe and maintain standards of behaviour that fit the image of professionalism, to construe their actions as altruistic, and to promote a service ethic and orientation.
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