quote HEE facebook linkedin twitter bracketDetail search file-download keyboard-arrow-down keyboard-arrow-right close event-note

You are here

Public health specialist capacity review

The focus for NHS England, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is to ensure the workforce is adequately resourced to meet future demand.

The latest report outlines the findings from the fifth comprehensive national census to capture the size and composition of the public health specialist workforce in England.

​This workforce census exercise has become a fixed point in understanding workforce numbers and demographics, unfilled and vacant posts and demand forecasts. The data collected enables us to monitor trends for this workforce. This data informs commissioning on public health specialists and supports improvements in data collection methods for public professionals across the system.​

The census builds on previous collections undertaken in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2021, allowing a comprehensive timeseries analysis to be performed on a wide range of metrics. The 2022 national census took place as of 01 October 2022 and has achieved a 70% response rate.

The key findings from the 2022 national census were:

  • England: the public health specialist workforce (Directors of Public Health and Public Health Consultants) an overall increase of 15.3% since 2021, from 1,064 FTE to 1,227 FTE in 2022
  • Local authorities: the specialist workforce has increased modestly by 5.7% from 563 in 2021 to 595 in 2022
  • NHS: the number of NHS organisations (including national leadership bodies) employing specialists in 2022 has grown and now stands at 206 FTE having previously stood at 148 FTE in 2021. The formation of ICBs and these organisations beginning to recruit Public Health professionals is known to be a contributing factor to this growth
  • OHID / UKHSA: the specialist workforce across these two organisations has increased from 207 FTE in 2021 to 281 FTE in 2022
  • Higher education sector: professors, senior lecturers, readers, and lecturers in public health have an important role in education, training and research. These roles make up the specialist workforce in this sector which has seen a slight decrease in numbers since 2021 from 146 FTE and is now estimated to be 144.7 FTE

In addition, data was drawn from the NHS Electronic Staff Record, professional registers (General Medical Council (GMC), General Dental Council (GDC) and UK Public Health Register (UKPHR), the Higher Education Statistics Agency and recent clinical academic surveys for public health specialists working in the NHS, the former PHE (OHID / UKHSA) and higher education sector.

Full details can be found in the 2022 report here: A Capacity Review – Public Health Specialists in 2022

Return to the top of the page.