There is increasing recognition that improving health and tackling inequalities requires a strong public health workforce capable of delivering key public health functions across systems. The World Health Organization in Europe has identified securing the delivery of the Essential Public Health Operations and strengthening public health capacities within this as a priority.
It is acknowledged that current public health capacities and arrangements of public health services vary considerably across the World Health Organization in European Region, and investment in multidisciplinary workforce with new skills is essential if public health services are to be delivered.
This paper describes the current situation in the UK where there are nationally funded multidisciplinary programmes for training senior public health specialists. Uniquely, the UK provides public health registration for multidisciplinary as well as medical public health specialists.
The transition from a predominantly medical to a multidisciplinary public health specialist workforce over a relatively short timescale is unprecedented globally and was the product of a sustained period of grass roots activism aligned with national policy innovation. the UK experience might provide a model for other countries seeking to develop public health specialist workforce capacity in line with the Essential Public Health Operations.