Defined specialists - Membership through Exemption

The FPH Board agreed in 2012, that from 1 July 2013 that newly registered defined specialists should automatically be offered Membership through Exemption, instead of Fellowship through Exemption.

FPH has always supported the concept that public health is strongest as a multi-disciplinary specialty, and it was a key advocate for public health specialist posts to be open to any candidate who had demonstrated the appropriate competences, irrespective of their professional background. To support this process, FPH worked to open the consultant AAC process to suitably qualified non-medical candidates, to open public health training schemes to all professional groups, to recognise the achievements of those already in senior positions and to ensure that there was a comparable system of regulation to that which already existed for public health specialists from a medical or dental background. This included support for a system of recognising the expertise of those who were already in senior roles in public health to demonstrate their competence through a retrospective portfolio route run by the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR) that would be available for a time-limited period. For those individuals already in senior posts in specialised areas of public health, FPH accepted that it was appropriate for their expertise to be relevant to their existing specialised senior role, as measured by the defined specialist route offered by the UKPHR and was pleased to offer such candidates Fellowship of FPH. This catch-up system was put into operation in 2007.

With the emergence of the issues raised in the government’s white paper around regulation in 2010/11, FPH developed a clear position on its vision for the demonstration and maintenance of professional competence and statutory regulation and worked hard to advocate our key messages. At its May 2012 meeting the FPH Board of Trustees re-stated the FPH position that new public health specialists should be competent at specialist level across all public health competency areas and that specialisation within public health should be additional to this generic competence. The decision on Fellowship was a consequence of this position.

FPH recognises the value of Defined Specialists in the workforce and the vast contributions they make to delivering public health outcomes and was pleased to previously support the programme for retrospective recognition for those Defined Specialists who had been working at consultant level before specialist registration had been available to non-medical public health staff. However, noting the Board’s position, it was not appropriate for people who gain specialist registration via the Defined Specialist route in the future to continue to be automatically awarded Fellowship of FPH.

This change did not affect any registrant’s status with the UKPHR or eligibility for consultant appointments. Defined specialists can still gain Fellowship of FPH through the Distinction route.