Public health specialist stocktake
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Public health specialist stocktake

The Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) has published the Public Health Specialist Stocktake. The review, commissioned by Health Education England (HEE), Public Health England (PHE) and the Department of Health (DH), is designed to provide guidance on future training numbers for the public health specialist workforce in England. 

Through desk research and input from expert stakeholders, based on the available evidence, the CfWI estimates that there are at least 1,200 specialists working in England, with 75 to 80 per cent of them employed by local authorities and PHE. 

Our research suggests:

  • Supply is expected to increase by 8.4 per cent by 2020, and then increase by a further 4 per cent between 2020 and 2035. However, this finding is sensitive to several factors, including trends in retirement and pre-retirement attrition, as well as adjustments to training numbers.
  • When expected supply is compared to current future population projections from the ONS, there is potential for a small undersupply of specialists over the long term.
  • However, if available posts in local government and PHE are reduced, increasing the number of specialist trainees in the short term may lead to significant oversupply of specialists over the medium and long term.

Expert stakeholders verified the data considered by the CfWI in its modelling, and helped to develop plausible alternative projections for how future demand for specialist posts may develop. The projections show that, for example, if the number of specialist posts:

  • increased in line with population growth, average annual training numbers would be sufficient to broadly maintain the balance between demand and supply, albeit with a small undersupply by 2035;
  • remained steady, a reduction of between 15 and 20 per cent to average annual training numbers would be needed up to 2035 to avoid over-supply;
  • reduced, reductions of greater than 20 per cent to average annual training numbers may be needed up to 2035 to avoid over-supply.

In consultation with its stakeholders and commissioners, the CfWI has evaluated its findings, and determined that training numbers broadly remain constant, but that a further study be completed in 2-3 years’ time to test this recommendation. Currently, HEE commissions approximately 68 training places each year.

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