Linda Hindle, Lead Allied Health Professional, Public Health England
We know a radical upgrade in prevention is needed to ensure the sustainability of the health and social care system and improve the public’s health and wellbeing.
Two thirds of early deaths are preventable, which is why there is a call to action to all healthcare professionals to deliver more proactive and meaningful prevention discussions and interventions. By acting collectively we can all be a force for change in building a culture of health and wellbeing in our society.
Allied health professionals (AHPs) are recognised as having the skills, opportunity and enthusiasm to be an integral part of the public health workforce. There are some excellent examples of AHP led public health initiatives, from giving children the best start in life to preventing falls in older adults.
We need to maintain this momentum and spread good practice throughout the professions so this approach to prevention and population health becomes the norm.
One of the best ways of keeping up the momentum is to ensure the future AHP workforce is equipped with the skills, knowledge and attributes required to take a population health approach.
There is consensus across the education system for AHPs that further embedding of public health into curricula is the right thing to do – in fact many universities which educate AHPs have already taken steps to strengthen the public health component of their courses and professional bodies are reviewing their curriculum guidance.
The education of the future workforce is influenced by many stakeholders, including professional bodies, universities, regulator and NHS providers and these organisations and others have come together to develop collective guidance on the public health component of AHP pre-registration curricula.
The Guidance: Public Health Content within the Pre-Registration Curricula for Allied Health Professions is a supportive document to help shape individual professions curricula and support universities to review and develop their courses.
It is intentionally short and references other relevant work.
The guidance includes 12 recommendations including:
- All AHP pre-registration courses should include prevention and public health content
- Prevention and public health is threaded throughout curricula rather than as a stand-alone module.
- The curricula should aim to address the following components of public health: understanding prevention, population health and public health data; wider determinants of health; health improvement; health protection; healthcare public health; enabling health, wellbeing and independence; health and wellbeing across the life-course and place-based approaches.
- The All Our Health Framework is used as a tool to inform course content
- Behaviour change skills are incorporated based on Framework to promote person centred approaches in healthcare
- Curricula and courses include evidence-based approaches and practice in relation to public health.
- Interdisciplinary training opportunities are created where possible to support learners to understand a collaborative and whole system approach to prevention and population health.
- Opportunities to build on public health knowledge and skills are created during practice placements,
- Learners are encouraged to demonstrate leadership and act as change agents to influence learning in practice within the current workforce
- Professional bodies develop and provide specific guidance on the public health knowledge and skills required for their own professional context.
- Learning around prevention and population health is assessed as part of existing quality review and assessment processes.
- In England in particular, the HEE Public Health Quality Assurance Framework is used to assess the public health content of curricula and support action planning to further embed public health and prevention.
I hope this guidance will be useful to professional bodies as they review their curriculum and to universities who are updating their courses.