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Public Health - Thames Valley

The School of Public Health oversees all aspects of training for both specialists and practitioners in Public Health for Health Education England working across Thames Valley which encompasses Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, including Milton Keynes. The aim of the School is to recruit and train doctors and those from disciplines, other than medicine, to enable them to acquire the knowledge, skills and experience required to be effective public health specialists. It aims to accommodate the evolving role of the speciality to allow a choice of career path and to cover the academic, health protection and service components of public health practice.

The School recognises the value of the public health practitioner and wider workforce by supporting a number of initiatives working collaboratively with other organisations across Thames Valley to embed the core principles of public health.

Making Every Contact Count (MECC)

Making Every Contact Count (MECC) is an approach to behaviour change that uses the millions of day-to-day interactions that organisations and individuals have with other people to support them in making positive changes to their physical and mental health and wellbeing. It supports the opportunistic delivery of consistent and concise healthy lifestyle information and enables individuals to engage in conversations about their health at scale across organisations and populations.

Health Education England's Thames Valley, Kent, Surrey and Sussex and Wessex local offices have developed an e-Learning programme as MECC is something everyone who has contact with the public can take part in. This e-Learning provides the underpinning knowledge to enable the delivery of a consistent approach to support people to improve their health and wellbeing through making positive changes to their lifestyles. After completing the e-Learning, you can access local face-to-face development to further develop your skills to have conversations about health and wellbeing. For Thames Valley the contact is Branwen Thomas, Workforce Programme Lead for Public Health England South East & Health Education England Thames Valley Branwen.Thomas@phe.gov.uk

The e-Learning consists of four modules that each takes 20 minutes, further information and access can be found here.

Health Education England Thames Valley continues to support the Making Every Contact Count programme and wider public health agenda with a range of joint working initiatives with Public Health England, local authorities, the NHS and other partners. We have been developing a range of training activities in public health.

Locally, a number of pilots to test different approaches for delivery of MECC across a range of organisations were undertaken and evaluated. A multi-professional approach was taken. Staff groups included community health champions from voluntary organisations, fire officers, nurses, midwives, maternity support workers, allied health professionals and community link officers. The training was provided by members of the local Public Health teams and independent consultants. Training offered included 'Understanding Health Development' and 'Train the Trainer (TTT) events. Bespoke training for the fire service was developed with, and delivered by, a member of the local authority public health team. The TTT programme was based on a module developed by the Royal Society of Public Health and tailored to local need.

A number of projects supporting the prevention agenda have been assisted through HEETV. Examples include: The Health Centre at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - which provides healthy lifestyle advice for patients, visitors and staff and support has been given to community pharmacists training to be Health Champions.

In collaboration with Oxford Brookes University (OBU), HEE has backed a programme to give assistance to transformational work amongst Health Visitors, which has included training on MECC and also a conference 'Moving Forward, building community capacity through profiling'.

HEE hosted an event on 9 June, 2016 'Public Health is Everyone's Business' which brought together system leaders across HEETV to explore how to work collaboratively to ensure prevention is everyone's business.

Public Health Workforce Development

Public Health Specialty Registrar Training
HEETV runs a specialty training programme for public health registrars, ensuring that placements are available in accredited sites with experienced supervisors. Placements include Local Authorities, the PHE SE Centre, NHS England, acute hospitals, academic institutions as well as national and international opportunities.

Public Health placements for Foundation Doctors
These placements have given Foundation doctors the opportunity to gain an understanding of careers in Public Health and contributed to attracting medics to a career in Public Health. In addition there are unique opportunities to gain research skills and exposure to health economics, as well as co-authoring publications.

Development of Public Health in Clinical Specialties Programme
A post was created to allow registrars from clinical specialties to gain Public Health knowledge and skills relevant to their specialty. The 'Cochrane Fellow' has been very successful with registrars from plastic surgery, oncology, and paediatrics having taken up the post so far.

In relations to the HEE Public Health fellowships programme, the Thames Valley local office is leading on this national programme for the Chief Medical Officer (CMO).

Practitioner and wider workforce development

  • The practioner development scheme was relaunched and piloted in December 2014 attracting practitioners from the NHS, Local Authority and PHE.
  • Professional development and recruitment of assessors, verifiers and mentors to support the portfolio development scheme is ongoing.
  • There has been collaboration with the Faculty of Public Health to develop FPH-approved practitioner master classes. A pilot began in May 2016, following positive feedback and evaluation a second programme will run in 2017.
  • Public health training modules for the wider workforce, commissioned through OBU, were delivered during 2014-15 and have had a positive evaluation. OBU delivered workshops on how to embed evaluation into public health programmes which has accessed by Local Authority teams, NHS and PHE staff.
  • Local public health development leads have provided support to develop locally relevant strategic workforce development plans as agreed by the HEETV public health workforce steering group.
  • A Public Health Ethics Forum has been formed. This is a joint programme with Oxford University with representation from Local Authorities, HEE, PHE, CCGs, and local providers.

PH Workforce Development Manager
A joint post between PHE and HEE has been established to coordinate work related to public health workforce planning, education and training for the practitioner and wider workforce


Branwen Thomas - Public Health Workforce Development Manager

For enquiries about the School of Public Health and the specialty training programme, please contact:

Dr Premila Webster – Head of the School of Public Health 

Lesley Maitland - Training and Development Officer






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