The Rethinking the Public Health Workforce report identifies a number of occupations which have already started to support public health work. It builds on the findings of a separate paper, Understanding the Wider Public Health Workforce, which has also been jointly published by the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) and RSPH.
The joint research commissioned by the Department of Health, Public Health England and Health Education England, and produced by the CfWI and RSPH, includes the following estimates for professionals delivering public health outside of core healthcare settings:
- 172,686 Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) including physiotherapists and podiatrists
- 292,000 Protective service occupations including fire service, police, ambulance
- 243,000 Welfare and housing professionals
- 72,985 Pharmacists and their teams
Many of these occupations have regular contact with the public - the fire service undertakes some 670,000 safe and well checks each year, AHPs see over 4 million patients every week, and 95% of the public visit a pharmacy at least once a year. The report also identifies a new tranche of occupations who could support public health efforts including:
- 803,000 kitchen, bar and waitering staff
- 639,000 cleaners
- 452,000 public service and associate professionals such as postal workers
- 222,000 hairdressers and related services.
We think that, with appropriate training, the wider workforce could support public health activities in areas including the following:
- Point of care testing including body fat measurements, finger prick testing, blood pressure, BMI
- Behaviour change programmes, healthy conversations, and signposting the public on to more specialist services
- Social prescribing including screening the public for lifestyle health conditions such as inactivity, low level anxiety or social isolation
- Assisting the public to overcome physical and emotional barriers to health advice including access to GPs and initiating conversations about health