Public Health Workforce Strategy

Closed 29 Jun 2012

Opened 27 Mar 2012


The consultation document signals the importance of building on the best but also the need to change and develop the workforce that contribute to public health. It highlights national relationships that will support the training, leadership, development and tracking of the public health specialist workforce of the future. This consultation is the first step towards developing a new public health workforce strategy that will be a living document, regularly reviewed and updated. Each chapter of this document includes key messages, proposals and consultation questions. Where appropriate case studies are included.


This consultation document does not attempt to prescribe a definitive way of shaping the public health workforce. Neither does it address specifically the transition issues that are associated with the transfer of staff from existing bodies to new ones. The detail on organisational structures, human resource (HR) issues (eg terms and conditions) and levels of employment in various locations are addressed elsewhere – some of which have been published, eg the HR Transition Framework and the Public Health HR Concordat, with other documents on further HR detail expected during 2012.

Why We Are Consulting

At a time of fundamental change, there are opportunities for public health and it is vital that we recognise the importance of the whole public health workforce and the influence it can bring to bear. This is an excellent opportunity to ensure that the workforce can do all it can to address health inequalities and make the phrase “public health is everyone’s business” a reality.  The changes give local authorities an important new role that will enable them to build on their knowledge of the wider determinants of health.


The public health workforce is diverse both in the nature of the functions it performs and in the places it works. It is ten years since the then Chief Medical Officer’s report Strengthening the Public Function. The current changes to the public health system provide an ideal opportunity to take stock and review what needs to be done to ensure that there are highly qualified and motivated people delivering positive public health outcomes, wherever they work.

What Happens Next

The Department of Health will consult on the proposals set out in this paper. However, more than that, the Department of Health aims to co-produce the workforce strategy with key stakeholders, and sees the consultation period as a continuation of the engagement and involvement we have already begun. This will help in shaping the strategy further.


The scoping work over 2011 has included the current situation, how the consultant and specialist workforce has developed since the previous workforce strategy in 2002, and the challenges now faced.


Engagement with key stakeholders will be maintained during the consultation period that will run until 29 June 2012. The responses received and outputs from consultation events will contribute to the evolving workforce strategy. Following this consultation period the Department of Health will collate and analyse the responses and publish a public health workforce strategy in autumn 2012.


That strategy will be a ‘live’ document and consequently will need to be reviewed regularly in the light of transition in 2013 and onwards.


This consultation document is accompanied by a consultation Impact Assessment (Annex B). The Department of Health welcomes any information or evidence that would help analyse the impact of the proposals contained in this document.


  • Voluntary groups
  • Community groups
  • Charities
  • Civil society
  • Advocacy or support organisations
  • GPs
  • Nurses
  • Health visitors
  • Clinicians
  • Managers
  • Commissioners
  • Directors of Public Health
  • Pharmacists
  • Doctors
  • Midwives
  • Healthcare scientists
  • Paramedics
  • Dentists
  • Art therapists
  • Dramatherapists
  • Music therapists
  • Chiropodists/ podiatrists
  • Dieticians
  • Occupational therapists
  • Orthotists
  • Orthopists
  • Prosthetists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Diagnostic radiographers
  • Therapeutic radiographers
  • Speech and language therapists
  • Foundation Trusts
  • Regulatory body
  • Academic/ Professional institution
  • Employer representatives
  • Employee representatives
  • Trade union
  • Deaneries
  • Higher Education institutions
  • Local authority
  • Social care provider
  • Directors of Adult Social Care Services
  • Members of the public
  • Patients
  • Carers
  • Service users
  • Retailers
  • Suppliers
  • Information providers
  • Information professionals
  • Informatics professionals


  • Public health