The RSPH has published our new report calling for greater collective support for the millions of people in the UK’s Wider Public Health Workforce that are positively contributing to the nation’s health. 

The report sets out that there are up to 1.5 million people working across a huge range of occupations who, with the right training and support, have the potential to help produce better health outcomes, reduce pressure on the NHS and grow the economy.  

Occupations in the wider public health workforce include allied health professionals, sports and fitness trainers, town and country planners, emergency services, pest control workers, social care, cleaning and hygiene operatives and more. 

These are occupations that aren’t considered part of the specialist public health workforce but have the potential to have a positive impact on the health of the public.


What does the Wider Public Health Workforce report call for?

The report, ‘The Unusual Suspects: Unlocking the Potential of the Wider Public Health Workforce’ has four headline recommendations aimed at the UK and devolved nation governments and public health sector which call for: 

1. The UK and devolved nation governments developing a cross-sector national strategy for the whole UK Public Health Workforce. 

2. The public health sector and relevant government departments thinking collectively about how to resource, upskill and empower the Wider Public Health Workforce to maximise their impact. 

3. The Wider Public Health Workforce being better recognised as contributing to public health and prevention. 

4, The Wider Public Health Workforce needs clearer routes into public health and ways to develop and be recognised for its expertise in public health. 

Reactions to the report

William Roberts FRSPH, CEO, Royal Society for Public Health, commented: 

“Health inequalities are continuing to cut lives short across the UK. This is causing enormous suffering and harming the economy through increasing numbers of people unable to work due to ill-health. Reversing the deeply alarming trend of worsening health outcomes is going to need a whole workforce approach. 

Millions of people have the chance to positively contribute to the nation’s health through their everyday jobs. In the UK’s Wider Public Health Workforce there is huge untapped potential. The recommendations in this report set out a clear, realistic and actionable route for Government and the public health sector to make the most of it. If we want to build a healthier and more productive future, it starts with an army of people working to improve our health.” 

Dr Jonathan Pearson-Stuttard FRSPH FFPH, Chair, Royal Society for Public Health, commented: 

It is a critical time for the health of the UK. Poor working age health and associated inequalities are driving large increases in economic inactivity. The breadth of the Public Health workforce is an asset to help combat these challenges. 

We need a Public Health workforce that is empowered to improve the public’s health despite the challenges we face now and in the future. This new RSPH report makes a compelling case for investing in the UK’s Wider Public Health Workforce and how to target such investment most effectively. Such actions could substantially help tackle the drivers of ill health and build a healthier and more prosperous future. 

Greg Fell, President, Association of the Directors of Public Health, commented: 

“The public’s health is improved and protected by a huge range of people, working across all sectors and at all levels. Each and every one of these people – most of whom don’t have ‘health’ in their job titles – play a critical role in public health. That may seem obvious to those of us in this line of work, but it is a message that we need to spread far and wide so that all those working to prevent and protect us from ill-health, and promote good health and wellbeing, are given the recognition and training they need. Only then will we be able to truly support our population to lead healthier lives for longer.” 

Professor Kevin Fenton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, commented: 

“This timely report from the Royal Society of Public Health provides clear recommendations to develop the wider public health workforce’s role in protecting and improving the health and wellbeing of local, regional and national populations.  

The wider public health workforce bring a diverse range of expertise and perspectives to public health, and we must recognise these contributions and draw out opportunities for development and leadership.” 

Notes to editors

About RSPH 

  • The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) is an independent health education charity, dedicated to protecting and promoting the public’s health and wellbeing.  

  • The RSPH the world’s longest-established public health body with over 6000 members drawn from the public health community both in the UK and internationally.  

  • RSPH is the largest specialist provider of public health qualifications and training in the UK.