Introduction: working occupations. The wider workforce has

Introduction:

Improving
the public’s health is going to be critical in reducing these costs and the
importance of this is rightly recognised in the National
Health Service(NHS) Five Year Forward
View. A key part of how we will achieve this is to embed healthy lifestyles
throughout communities, making public health ‘everybody’s business’. At The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), our focus is on developing the skills and
knowledge of the ‘wider public health workforce’. RSPH and PHE have acknowledged
the importance of engaging this workforce for supporting a “radical upgrade in
prevention” by enabling a far greater number of people to gain access to vital
health support and advice, including those from ‘hard to-reach’ groups

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The
wider workforce is defined as ‘any individual who is not a specialist or
practitioner in public health, but has the opportunity or ability to positively
impact health and wellbeing through their (paid or unpaid) work’. (CfWI and RSPH)U1 
(CfWI, 2014)

 The estimated headcount for the wider workforce is 20.2 million people
(this includes those who provide unpaid care and support). There are 57
occupation groups that reflect the wider workforce. Within these groups there
are 185 working occupations. The wider workforce has been categorised by level
of engagement in public health: Active, Interested and UnengagedU2 .
The categorisation of occupations was determined by the workshop participants’
experience, knowledge and informed views.

Using national data from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour
Force Survey (ONS, 2014a), the CfWI
estimates that there are approximately 15 million people in England employed in
occupations that have the opportunity or ability to impact health and wellbeing
though their work. The occupations included in this estimate of the wider
public health workforce were confirmed through workshops. In addition, the UK
Census (ONS, 2011) suggests that there are approximately 5 million people
providing unpaid care and support to family or friends due to disability,
illness or poor mental health. This gives us an approximate range of between 15
to 20 million people in the wider public health workforce.
The stakeholder workshops categorised occupations as either: active,
interested or unengaged with public health.

There
is now a strong body of evidence to suggest that the early adopters in the wider
workforce delivering public health are indeed the fire services, health trainers,
pharmacists, allied health
professions and parts of the social housing sector. While these are certainly not
the only groups making a significant contribution to health and wellbeing, these
diverse groups may be a good
place to start to develop the wider workforce on a larger scale. Many of the occupations
identified as part of the wider workforce are those that have direct and
regular contact with members of the public. Our initial estimation indicates that almost half
(48%) of the
wider workforce may have the opportunity to build trusted relationships through
repeated interactions with the public. This could either be through an established
client list (e.g. hairdressers, midwives, teaching assistants) or close links
to a local community (e.g. elected
officials, librarians, police officers).

What
is evident is that there are potentially millions of people who work in
occupations that have the opportunity to positively influence health and
wellbeing. Five million people provide unpaid care and support to family and
friends, taking further pressure off the health and social care systems. While
we have made some attempt to identify those occupations that are actively
involved in public health, the scale of the workforce identified highlights the
enormous potential for thinking outside the core public health workforce for
public health service delivery.

ConClusIon
The wider workforce has the capacity to accelerate the radical upgrade in
prevention through their broad reach into communities and their enthusiasm to
develop asset-based and personalized approaches. They work across the system in
health, social care, education, voluntary and community sectors and across the
life course. Workforces such as the fire service, allied health professionals,
social housing, health trainers, teachers and community pharmacists are making
significant impact already in improving the heath and wellbeing of individuals
and communities. There is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates the
strength of the connection between health and the wider workforce and how
critical it is
in the current economic climate that the ‘system’ considers working with the
wider workforce to prevent and address health inequalities. The wider workforce
are key to integration, early intervention
and supporting independence, yet the value of this workforce is not fully
realized because of their limited voice in local and national strategic
planning.

Development
and training interventions – to improve the quality of wider workforce
interventions and recognise its achievements, including a wider workforce
public health skills framework and incorporation of public health principles
and practice into preand post registration education across the health and
social care platform.

 U1Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) (2014). Mapping
the Core Public Health Workforce (online). Available
at: http://www.cfwi.org.uk/publications/mapping-the-core-public-health-workforce
Accessed April 2015.

 U2Office for National Statistics (ONS) (2011). 2011
Census for England and Wales (online). Available at:
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/guidemethod/census/2011/index.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Accessed April 2015.

 

Office for National
Statistics Labour Force Survey (ONS LFS) (2014a) (online). Available at:
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/may-2014/statistical-bulletin.html
Accessed
March 2015.

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