Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, attended a lecture delivered by Professor David Hunter of Durham University marking the 10th anniversary of the UKPHR

It is not too often that you get the opportunity to hear a precise, powerful and analytic review of public health over the last decade, so it was a treat to hear the expert observations of Professor David Hunter, Professor of Health Policy and Management, Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University.

The occasion was the 10th anniversary of the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR), the independent regulator for public health professionals which now encompasses public health practitioners. UKPHR was founded in 2003, by leaders in the field who recognised the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to public health and who included RSPH’s current Chair, Fiona Sim.

Professor Hunter outlined the changes to public health over the last decade, highlighting the resurgence of public health under new labour with a dedicated minister and the recognition of a multi disciplinary workforce (the late Derek Wanless’s ‘fully engaged scenario’). He emphasised the lasting significance of the Michael Marmot Review but also spoke of the emerging tensions of approach between the ‘Nudge’ (the responsibility deal) and ‘Shove’ (the smoking ban in public places).

He also talked about the ‘lifestyle drift’ policy bias and the movement of responsibility from the state to the individual alongside the resistance by some in the medical profession to non medical specialists in public health. He underlined the positive moves of public health responsibility to local government and to the developing skills in the wider workforce.

Perhaps even more fascinating was Professor Hunter’s future-gazing through the perspectives of the glass half empty or half full. Your view point clearly depended on how you saw public health but for me and I suspect many of our members and partners, the prospect of new ways of delivering public health across local government with its potential for doing things differently is very positive.

Alongside an assets-based approach, a broader group gaining strategies, skills and competencies to improve the public’s health and a strengthened evidence base, this all adds up to a brighter and healthier future.

So from everyone at RSPH, a happy 10th birthday to the UKPHR, you are doing a great job and we hope you extend your reach over the next decade.