Shaping the Future Conference
Murphy, Mandy, The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health
2005's Shaping the Future report highlighted the desperate need for support, advocacy and development opportunities faced by the specialised health promotion workforce in England and Wales. A national conference spearheaded by the RSH and collaborating bodies set out to form an action plan and give voice to a discipline integral to public health. JRSH's Mandy Murphy reports.
A major conference co-organised by The Society was held on October 31 to reaffirm and explore the contribution of specialised health promotion staff in England and Wales.
More than 200 delegates from across the UK attended the event, which was held at Staffordshire University and was organised by the RSH in conjunction with The Faculty of Public Health (FPH) and The UK Voluntary Register for Public Health Specialists (UKVRPHS).
The aim of the conference was to examine the role of specialised health promotion staff within Primary Care Trusts in England and Local Public Health teams in Wales, and to inform delegates about progress made in implementing the recommendations of the report 'Shaping the Future of Public Health: Promoting Health in the NHS'.
The report was published by the Department of Health and the Welsh Assembly Government in July 2005 and set out to define the roles and development needs of specialised health promotion staff. The report's co-author, Jenny Griffiths, chaired the conference.
Delegates attended a series of presentations in the morning delivered by key representatives from the English and Welsh governments and health promotion bodies. The first of these was delivered by Mala Rao, Head of Public Health Workforce Development at the Department of Health, who also chaired the Shaping the Future project.
In her speech, Ms Rao outlined current public health priorities and the vital role that specialised health promotion staff have to play in helping to 'build healthy public policy' through initiatives such as Health Challenge England and Healthy Schools Networks.
She said: 'Specialised health promotion staff are key to helping the Government to achieve the fully engaged scenario.'
Sandra Goosey, who is the Professional Lead for Health Promotion in the National Public Health Service for Wales (NPHS), delivered the next presentation, in which she gave an overview of how the Shaping the Future report recommendations have been implemented in Wales. Changes in recent years include the creation of the NPHS, the development of health promotion training programmes and the appointment of regional champions and Professional Leads in health improvement and health promotion.
The third speaker, Margaret Barry from the National University of Ireland, Galway, gave a speech entitled 'International Perspectives on Health Promotion Accreditation,' in which she outlined a study into the different accreditation and training systems in place for health promotion staff across Europe.
Delegates then watched presentations given by the conference's collaborating organisations together with Frances Cunning from the Society of Health Education and Promotion Specialists (SHEPS).
In his presentation, RSH Chief Executive Professor Richard Parish outlined the ways in which The Society is to be involved with supporting the Specialised Health Promotion workforce in the years to come.
Acknowledging the confusion and lack of support faced by this workforce in recent years owing to reorganisation, Professor Parish said: 'The RSH promises to provide the organisational capacity and recognition so badly needed by specialised health promotion staff. We will be forming a steering group to take forward these issues and are going to seek more funding and resources to continue mis process in due course. …