April 2021: Supporting your public health heroes

With the importance of public health practitioners being thrown into the spotlight by COVID-19, UK Public Health Register CEO Marcial Boo explores how employers can take a more active role in supporting the development of their own practitioner workforce.


Public health practitioners have formed a vital part of the UK’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year. But, as anyone working in public health knows, practitioners don’t just operate in a crisis – every day, these unsung heroes protect and promote the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and populations across the UK.

At the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR), we have been inviting employers to nominate their very own ‘Public Health Heroes’ – the practitioners who have not only stepped up during the pandemic, but whose ongoing contributions to public health have helped make the UK a safer, healthier, better place to live. 

The nominations we have received – from local authorities and NHS trusts across the UK – have highlighted the extraordinary breadth and scale of the practitioner role in everything from transport and environmental health, to infection control and policy creation.

While it’s great for employers to recognise and celebrate the work of their public health workforce, it’s also vital for employers to support individuals by encouraging and facilitating their registration as a UKPHR-accredited public health practitioner.

That’s why we’re launching a brand new Toolkit for Employers, designed to give employers the tools they need to support individual public health practitioners to achieve registration with UKPHR.

The UKPHR Practitioner Registration Scheme

Public health practitioners achieve registration with us via one of several local, quality-assured registration schemes, each involving the development of a portfolio to demonstrate their knowledge, understanding and application of 34 core standards.

Successfully registered practitioners undergo regular re-registration (‘revalidation’) and undertake ongoing Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to maintain and enhance their skills and competence.

By requiring registrants to demonstrate both their knowledge and their practical skills – the ‘know how’ as well as the ‘show how’ – UKPHR practitioner registration provides independent, robust quality assurance for practitioners working in all areas of public health.

Not only does this enable employers to recognise and reward the expertise of individual employees, it also guarantees that their whole practitioner workforce is meeting the highest standards of conduct and competence, ultimately helping them to better protect the public.

A new toolkit for employers

Support from an employer can make all the difference during the registration process – so it’s important for employers to know what they can do to encourage and facilitate registration for their public health practitioners.

Our new toolkit is designed to help them do just that, with useful guidance on creating demand for registration, as well as supporting public health staff in building their portfolio of evidence and undertaking professional development. The toolkit also helps employers to share best practice within their teams, and to celebrate the successful professional registration of their staff.

Each section has ideas, examples and case studies from other employers, as well as a list of clear, actionable points that employers can put into practice for their own workforce. 

Creating a workforce fit for the future

At UKPHR, we are committed to creating a public health workforce that is fit for the future. As the CEO of the Register, I believe that the best way to do this is to engage, support and collaborate with employers of public health staff across the UK. 

I hope that you will find our new toolkit useful, and I encourage you to get in touch with us or with your regional scheme coordinator if you have any questions (their details can be found at the back of the toolkit).

The more invested we all are in supporting and developing the UK’s entire public health workforce, the greater the benefit for all of us in the sector – and indeed, the greater the benefit for the communities in which we and our loved ones all live.