Healthcare Public Health 

The mission of public health professionals is to improve the health of populations.   Defined as improving health through the organised efforts of society, public health professionals work to prevent disease, promote health, and reduce inequalities through three principal disciplines:

  • health promotion;
  • health protection;
  • better health care.

Many people, of course, are involved in better healthcare, for example all those clinicians engaged in improving the quality and safety of the service they provide, but the public health professional contribution is distinct and complementary.   It is essential that the institutions of health care – health centres and primary care teams, mental health services, and hospitals – be committed to improving quality and safety and engaging patients as co-producers.  These activities are essential, necessary but not sufficient.   

By focusing on health care for populations, the public health professional contribution, the focus shifts from quality and safety to value and equity.   It shifts from the archipelago of healthcare based on great, but isolated, institutions to population-based systems with the population size being determined not by the necessary bureaucratic arrangement that has to be in place to employ people openly and fairly and manage money with probity, but a population size that is determined by the prevalence of the condition and the degree of complexity that is required to tackle it. Health and healthcare issues are complex challenges and require complex adaptive solutions, rather than the linear solutions of bureaucracies. The present approach to commissioning will not by itself maximise value and equity because there are in fact five types of commissioning, national, specialist, CCG, Local Authority, and Public Health England. Fortunately members of the Healthcare Public Health Community of Practice are involved in all five and can unite these disparate forces. These and other key concepts, for example the key books about healthcare, complexity and systems are gathered together as Healthcare Public Health Essentials 

The public health professional is therefore focused on population healthcare, not institutional health care, although the latter is obviously of central importance.   The aim of population healthcare to maximise value & equity by focusing on populations defined by a common symptom, condition or characteristic for example breathlessness, or arthritis, or multiple morbidity; not on institutions, or specialties, or technologies

It is essential to report on good work through the casebook of Public Health Experience 

The draft strategy paper prepared by the team in Health and Wellbeing Directorate on population healthcare is on this linked webpage

We are also strongly committed to helping other professionals, notably clinicians, acquire some of the knowledge and skills that we have developed over the years, for example an understanding of the issue of equity and how an analysis of the relationship between referral patterns and deprivation could indicate to a service that it needed to take action to serve its population more equitably. This is called Population Medicine or Population Nursing, in part because some of the clinicians are resistant to the term public health (it is of interest to note the the Faculty was nearly called The Faculty of Population Medicine in 1972 before the name Faculty of Community Medicine was chosen!)