The Unusual Suspects: Unlocking the Potential of the Wider Public Health Workforce

Our report calls 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.

Who are the Public Health Workforce?

The RSPH define the public health workforce as:

  • Wider: All staff engaged in or who want to engage in public health activities, who identify public health as being an important part of their role but are not employed within the core public health workforce – around 7.75m people
  • Core-practitioners: All staff engaged in public health activities who identify public health as the primary part of their role. Those who spend a major part, or all of their time, in public health practice delivering public health – around 36,000 people
  • Core-specialist: All staff engaged in public health activities who identify public health as being the primary part of their role and who are on the (GMC, UKPHR or GDC) specialist register – 1,300 - 1,500 people



1.5 million

people have the potential to help

9 out of 10

surveyed want a government plan for WPHW support


of the wider workforce say public health has become more important to their work

Key recommendations

1. UK and devolved nation governments need to develop a cross-sector national strategy for the whole UK Public Health Workforce

A national strategy is needed to effectively grow and support a comprehensive public health workforce that is that is fit for the future. This needs to take a four-nations, joined-up approach and build on strategic plans already in place or in development.

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

Training is crucial and needs to be adequately resourced and funded in order to upskill and develop those who want to initiate or further their public health skills. This needs to specifically focus on training packages and qualifications that are transferrable and portable as people move through their career.

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

Recognition of the wider public health workforce is a crucial first step to harnessing their skills and experience. RSPH have a range of ways for people to evidence their learning and competence to say that they are part of the wider workforce, which could easily be adapted to act as a benchmark.

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

As part of a training and development offer, RSPH need to work with the sector to develop competencies for those working across public health which are inclusive, flexible, and adaptable for their sector. We know that many in the wider workforce want to develop their public health skills and competencies further and stay within their role, while there will be others who want to use training and career opportunities to move into the core public health workforce.

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Allied Health Professionals

With over 4 million client contacts every week the AHP workforce of over 170,000 has huge potential to reach out at scale and support the public’s health.


RSPH membership is open to anyone working in public health and is a widely recognised mark of commitment