Background to the Scheme

What are the benefits?

Public health practitioners joining the UK register benefit through securing objective recognition of their achievements, maintaining and enhancing their competence and developing future career options.  Practitioner registration provides an opportunity to reflect and learn from work undertaken, and to demonstrate commitment to a future public health career.  Registration also signals that the practitioner is competent and fully understands the essentials of their public health role.

The public benefits through knowing that competence, integrity and accountability in public health practice is assured, it can be checked for on a public register – and there is someone to complain to if things go wrong.

Public Health Practitioners are key members of the Public Health workforce and can have a great influence on the health and wellbeing of individuals, groups, communities and populations. They work across the full breadth of Public Health from health improvement and health protection, to health information, community development and nutrition, in a wide range of settings from the NHS, health and local government to the voluntary and private sectors.   Across the UK, many thousands of practitioners work to protect and improve the health and well-being of communities and individuals, and reduce inequalities.  They are responsible for some of the most important health and social gains in the UK.  Their roles are multidisciplinary and they are responsible for individual and population level interventions including sensitive and deeply personal issues.

The purpose of the Public Health Practitioner Registration Scheme is to allow practitioners to become registered with the United Kingdom Public Health Register (UKPHR).  This is a dedicated regulator for public health professionals in the UK, providing professional regulation to public health specialists and public health practitioners from a variety of backgrounds, all of whom have a common core of knowledge, and skills.  The aim of registration is to protect the public and give confidence that this broad workforce is appropriately trained, competent and fit to practice.

Practitioners must be working at the “Skills for Health Careers Framework index Level 5

In order to become a registered practitioner, individuals are required to complete a retrospective portfolio, demonstrating their knowledge, understanding and application against a set of 34 standards.

The portfolio consists of a set of commentaries describing pieces of work or projects the individual has been involved in, and then the supporting evidence that meets the relevant standard. Evidence can be in a range of formats including reports, minutes, emails and testimonials.  The 34 standards are grouped under the following 8 areas:

  1. Practising professionally, ethically and legally
  2. Using public health information to influence population health and well being
  3. Assessing the evidence for public health interventions and services
  4. Protecting the public from health risks while addressing differences in risk exposure and outcomes
  5. Implementing public health policy and strategy
  6. Collaborating across organisations and boundaries to deliver the public health function
  7. Planning, implementing and evaluating public health programmes and projects
  8. Communicating with others to improve health outcomes and reduce health inequalities

The commentaries are assessed by locally trained assessors, and help is also provided from a mentor.  Practitioners typically write between 3 – 6 commentaries, to cover all 34 standards.   When the practitioner and assessor are satisfied that all the standards have been met, the portfolio is passed to a verifier.  The verifier ensures that all the required information is in place, and that the entire process has been undertaken correctly.  A Verification Panel oversees this process.   The practitioner is then recommended to the UKPHR to be added to the register.  At least 50% of the work described in the commentaries must be no more than 5 years old at the time of the Verification Panel.