UK Voluntary Register For
Public Health Specialists

National Standards for Specialist Practice in Public Health: An overview

This document has been approved by the Tripartite Steering Group following a UK wide consultation and by the Education Regulatory Bodies.
It supersedes all previous drafts, which should no longer be used.

Healthwork UK
November 2001

Background

This project has been taken forward by Healthwork UK on behalf of the Tripartite Steering Group. This group is comprised of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, the Multi-disciplinary Public Health Forum, and the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene. They have been supported by the health departments of the four UK countries who have also provided financial support for the project.

All four countries have recently reviewed, or are in the process of reviewing, the Public Health function. Whilst there are differences in emphasis and style in the different countries there is a consensus that the capacity and capability of Public Health needs to be developed so that the Government can meet its aim of improving the health of the public. Recent work has identified three separate levels of public health practice:

It is the last group on which this work has focused.

This project aims to identify the processes used in the specialist practice of public health and the expected outcomes. It seeks to develop national standards, which can be used in a variety of ways to assist in developing this capacity and capability.

Specialist practice in public health is used to describe the work of those individuals who are independently accountable and work at a level currently comparable to consultants in public health medicine and dental public health. The project seeks to identify and develop standards for all such individuals, including consultants in public health medicine, so that those working - or wanting to work - at this level in public health can be clear about agreed best practice, their current competence and future career development.

The consultants on the project were ATM Consulting (project management) and Prime R&D Ltd (standards development).

The key purpose of public health

The purpose of public health is to:

The purpose has been informed by the perhaps better known descriptions of public health such as 'the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting health through the organised efforts of society'.

The purpose of public health is achieved through public health practice which:

In this document the term 'health and wellbeing' has been used throughout. This is to imply the wide meaning of health as set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO): "Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". The work is therefore intended to assist in improving the health of the public in these terms and the standards are intended to apply across all areas.

Values in public health practice

Standards for public health practice need to incorporate the values of public health practice.

These are that practice should be:

Ethical practice in public health
Ethical practice should underpin all practice in public health. Recent multi-disciplinary work led by the Faculty of Public Health Medicine sets out ethical guidelines for good public health practice for all specialists in public health whatever their initial professional background. The statements which follow form a useful guide for the ethical practice, which should underpin all practice in public health and the standards that follow.

Individuals practising in public health need to practise ethically. This means in relation to good public health practice, they must:

In relation to maintaining good public health practice, they must:

In relation to relationships with communities, they must:

In relation to working with colleagues - health care colleagues, local government colleagues and all other colleagues - they must act cooperatively, flexibly and with trust ensuring good team working.

In relation to teaching and training, individuals with special teaching responsibilities must:

In relation to honesty and integrity, individuals must:

In relation to their own health, individuals must seek and follow advice from an appropriate colleague if they have a condition that could affect their performance or be passed on to others.

*Faculty of Public Health Medicine, December 2000, Working with Good Public Health Practice (draft), London ,FPHM.

The ten areas of specialist practice in public health

There are ten areas of specialist practice in public health which form the basis of the standards. The Faculty of Public Health Medicine has also adopted these areas as the basis for its own work on accreditation.

It is anticipated that these areas, together with the more detailed standards that follow will develop in the future but that both the Faculty areas and these areas will remain aligned. This provides the basis for common standards for Specialist Practice in Public Health regardless of professional background.

The areas are:
1 Surveillance and assessment of the population's health and wellbeing
2 Promoting and protecting the population's health and wellbeing
3 Developing quality and risk management within an evaluative culture
4 Collaborative working for health and wellbeing
5 Developing health programmes and services and reducing inequalities
6 Policy and strategy development and implementation to improve health and wellbeing
7 Working with and for communities to improve health and wellbeing
8 Strategic leadership for health and wellbeing
9 Research and development to improve health and wellbeing
10 Ethically managing self, people and resources to improve health and wellbeing.

There is no priority in the order of these areas and none is intended by the order shown.

Although 'reducing inequalities' features particularly in area 5, it is recognised (as shown earlier) that this forms an integral part of the purpose of public health. It will therefore permeate all areas of public health work.

Developing standards for specialist practice in public health
The chart on the last page of this overview shows how these ten areas have been further broken down into sub-areas of practice. Standards for specialist practice in public health have been developed against each of these sub-areas. These are available as a separate document.

How might these standards be used?
These standards might be used in a number of ways such as the validation of specialist practice, the revalidation of practice (eg consistent with regulatory guidelines relating to continuing professional development and evidence of continuing competence), curriculum design and for organisational development and job design. A paper has been published giving more detail on how the standards may be used.

In relation to individuals it is considered that the Specialist will have provided performance and knowledge evidence against each of the ten areas by the point of qualification. Subsequently they will have to demonstrate ongoing competency, normally at a higher level than the standards, in a more limited number of areas and baseline competency in the remainder.


Further Information


These Standards were produced by Prime R&D Ltd and ATM Consulting Ltd for Healthwork UK and the Tripartite Steering Group.

For further information about these standards, or about other standards and their use, please contact Healthwork UK, the National Training Organisation for the Health Sector.

344-354 Grays Inn Road
London WC1X 8BP
Telephone 020 7692 5550
e-mail office@healthwork.co.uk


Area of specialist public health practice Sub-areas
   
1.Surveillance and assessment of the population's health and wellbeing 1.1 Manage, analyse, interpret and communicate information, knowledge and statistics about health and wellbeing
1.2 Manage, analyse, interpret and communicate information, knowledge and statistics about needs and outcomes of health and wellbeing
2.Promoting and protecting the population's health and wellbeing

2.1 Plan, implement, monitor and evaluate strategies for promoting the health and wellbeing of the population

2.2 Plan, implement, monitor and evaluate disease prevention and screening programmes to improve the population's health and wellbeing
2.3 Plan, implement, monitor and evaluate strategies for protecting the health and wellbeing of the population
3 Developing quality and risk management within an evaluative culture 3.1 Assess risks to the population's health and wellbeing and apply this to practice
3.2 Assess the evidence and impact of health and healthcare interventions, programmes and services and apply the assessments to practice
3.3 Improve the quality of health and healthcare services and interventions through audit and evaluation
4 Collaborative working for health and wellbeing 4.1 Develop and sustain cross-sectoral collaborative working for health and wellbeing
4.2 Advise others on health and wellbeing, related issues and their impact
4.3 Communicate effectively with the public and others about improving the health and wellbeing of the population
5 Developing health programmes and services and reducing inequalities 5.1 Enable inequalities in health and wellbeing to be reduced through planning and targeting services and programmes
5.2 Plan, implement, monitor and evaluate interventions, programmes and services to address health and wellbeing needs
6 Policy and strategy development and implementation to improve health and wellbeing 6.1 Shape and influence the development of policies to improve health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities
6.2 Implement strategies for putting policies to improve health and wellbeing into effect
6.3 Assess the impact of policies on health and wellbeing
7 Working with and for communities to improve health and wellbeing 7.1 Involve communities as active partners in all aspects of improving health and wellbeing
7.2 Empower communities to improve their own health and wellbeing
7.3 Enable communities to develop their capacity to advocate for health and wellbeing
8 Strategic leadership for health and wellbeing 8.1 Develop, sustain and implement a vision and objectives for improving health and wellbeing
8.2 Lead teams and individuals to improve health and wellbeing
8.3 Develop capacity and capability to improve health and wellbeing
9 Research and development to improve health and wellbeing 9.1 Appraise, plan and manage research related to improving health and wellbeing
9.2 Interpret research findings and implement them in practice
10 Ethically managing self, people and resources to improve health and wellbeing 10.1 Manage the development and direction of work
10.2 Manage services that are aimed at improving health and wellbeing

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