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Developing a multi-disciplinary public health specialist workforce: training implications of current UK policy
  1. D Evans1,
  2. S Dowling2
  1. 1Bristol North Primary Care Trust, Bristol, UK
  2. 2Dorset and Somerset Health Authority, UK
  1. Correspondence to:
 David Evans, Bristol North Primary Care Trust, King Square House, King Square, Bristol BS2 8EE, UK;

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Developing multi-disciplinary public health training is an international as well as national public health issue. In the UK, recent government health policy has emphasised the importance of developing multi-disciplinary public health activity to improve the nation’s health. The English white paper Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation recognises that the current lack of career pathways for non-medical public health specialists is a major barrier to a genuinely multi-disciplinary public health approach. Non-medical public health specialists do not have the comprehensive training, professional development, and career structures currently available to public health doctors. Medical trainees undertake a regionally based but nationally recognised five year specialist registrar training programme leading to inclusion on the General Medical Council specialist register. A number of structured training schemes for those from backgrounds other than medicine have been introduced in some NHS regions; however, these schemes vary considerably. There is, as yet, no similar “gold standard” accreditation comparable to entry on the medical specialist register. If the UK government is to achieve its goals of a genuinely multi-disciplinary public health specialist workforce, then it will need to ensure there is a common high standard of training and appropriate career pathways for medical and non-medical public health specialist trainees. As more non-medical specialists are trained in the NHS, the increasing global dimension of public health policy will require further international cooperation in developing multi-disciplinary public health careers.


Over the past 20 years it has been increasingly recognised that major public health issues transcend both national boundaries and disciplinary paradigms.1 HIV/AIDS is just one of the many global public health issues that demands an international and multi-disciplinary response.2 In a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, the specialist contribution of a range of disciplines to the public health workforce has long been …

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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none.

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