RSPH’s CEO William Roberts shares his reflections on Public Health Workforce Week 

One of the best things about my job is getting to see first-hand how the work the public health workforce does makes a real difference. The recent RSPH Public Health Workforce Week showcased some of this brilliant work and generated a huge amount of discussion and insight into the public health workforce. Whilst we at RSPH focussed on the wider public health workforce, we used the week as an opportunity to learn a lot from the entire sector and had great engagement from cleaning to Allied Health Professionals, Local Government, school nurses, academics, dieticians to pest control. Don’t worry if you missed it as there is lots you can catch up on that’s still available! 

We started the week with some public polling we commissioned, showing strong support for the public health workforce, demonstrating the important role they play. It also highlighted the public’s need for support from the public health sector and showed that the public think there should be a greater focus on tackling the causes of poor health, and the vast majority are concerned about the health of future generations if there isn’t greater investment in public health.  

We also drew on some of our brilliant partners to highlight the importance and diversity of the public health workforce.  

Read a guest blog by ADPH President Greg Fell on supporting the critical work of the Public Health Workforce here  

You can also read our blog on OHID’s professional workforce development digital platform: All Our Health here 

Throughout 2023, RSPH has been engaging with the wider public health workforce to find out about the challenges they face and how they might be better supported around career development, delivering public health and tackling inequalities. As part of this, we hosted a Roundtable in September 2023 to gather insight from expert organisations which represent, or include, members of the wider public health workforce. During Public Health Workforce Week, we released our priorities for the wider public health workforce from the roundtable: 

  • The wider public health workforce is not currently as valued and acknowledged as it should be. 

  • Leadership and investment are crucial to support them to work across a range of public health settings. 

  • Training and visible routes into public health are needed. 

We will be doing more on this when we launch our policy report and the findings of our survey. We had a huge level of engagement and responses and are analysing the results to ensure we are making recommendations that represent the voice of public health.  

Probably the highlight for me was the launch of our education pathways tool. Anyone working within the wider public health workforce should: 

  • be recognised as a person with expertise and skills in public health; 

  • should understand the routes available to develop their skills, competency, and career; 

  • understand and be proud of the impact that they can have on public health and wellbeing. 

We want:  

  • the public health system to appreciate the wider workforce; 

  • the wider public health workforce to genuinely feel like they are part of public health so both they and the public health system understand the impact they are having.  

To do this we have started to develop a range of public health career pathways and a careers hub for the wider public health workforce. This work is bringing together our already excellent educational and qualification offer and helping to make sense of routes into, and careers into, the wider public health workforce. We want people to be able to develop and grow into public health roles whilst also using these pathways to lift people out of poverty and address longstanding inequalities. 

Finally for those of you who are new to RSPH, being a member of RSPH offers a wide range of benefits and ensures that we are able to continue to fund our work around the public health workforce. Please do consider joining