At one time, the UK’s Public Health Register might have been regarded as the “new kid on the block” but not anymore. Started in 2003, the Register has grown to be the pre-eminent regulator of public health professionals – registering specialists, Specialty Registrars and practitioners.

Regulating public health specialists has been quite a journey.

Pre-September 2018, there were four different ways in which public health specialists could achieve registration:

STANDARD ROUTE:
For multidisciplinary professionals who successfully completed the Specialty Training Programme.

DUAL REGISTRATION:
For professionals already on the GMC’s Public Health Specialist Register and/or on the General Dental Council (GDC) public health specialist list.

RSS (Recognition of Specialist Status):
A portfolio assessment route for professionals to establish their generalist specialist expertise.

DEFINED SPECIALIST:
A portfolio assessment route for professionals whose skills and knowledge were particularly deep in some areas.

From September 2018, an additional portfolio assessment route was added, the new Specialist Registration by Portfolio Assessment (SRbPA) route. But from September 2019, the two previous portfolio assessment routes will close, so that going forward, there will be these three routes:

STANDARD ROUTE:
For multidisciplinary professionals who have successfully completed the Specialty Training Programme.

DUAL REGISTRATION:
For professionals already on the GMC’s Public Health Specialist Register and/or on the General Dental Council (GDC) public health specialist list.

SRbPA:
A portfolio assessment route for professionals to establish their specialist expertise, assessed against the 2015 Public Health Specialty Training Programme Curriculum.

With partners, I have been presenting information about the new SRbPA route during 2019 to audiences of public health professionals with an interest in the new route. As at May, I can say that:

  • 7 events have been held at Birmingham, Cambridge, London (twice), Norwich, Nottingham and Taunton.
  • Almost 200 public health professionals have been in attendance.
  • Further events may be arranged in the second half of the year in Newcastle, Scotland and Wales.

A wide range of issues have been raised in Question & Answer sessions at these events. Common themes that have arisen include:

  • Professionals whose public health work has to date been in a few areas of public health practice are keen to have access to experience of other areas – this raises issues about career advice and access to placements, perhaps encouraged by a job swap or brokerage service.
  • Professionals would welcome more support from their line managers and employers generally, for example with protected work time for preparing an application/portfolio.
  • Professionals would appreciate support with their applications/portfolios, perhaps from a mentor or peer support group.
  • Many questions we were asked would be answered by a close reading of the documents on our website.
  • These documents are helpful:

A learning point for me from attending these events has been that we need to engage more with employers of public health professionals. There appears to be low levels of awareness of our Register and the portfolio assessment route.

Next steps for the Register will include:

  • Closure of the RSS and defined specialist portfolio assessment routes after 31 August 2019
  • To monitor and report on experience of operating the new SRbPA route; and
  • To carry out a first formal evaluation of the new route when it has been in operation for a year.

David Kidney
Chief Executive
UK Public Health Register