Public health is a medical specialty with multi-disciplinary entry. The success of the public health profession relies on working collaboratively with specialists from a range of backgrounds, operating on the basis of equivalence with medically qualified specialists. This approach has enriched public health, ensuring that local areas and national organisations have the relevant mix of social, scientific and clinical skills to respond to the multiple challenges of public health, not least the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 60 percent of public health specialists have a professional background in medicine, and are registered with GMC. The remaining 40 percent of the UK’s public health specialists are registered with the UK Public Health Register (UKPHR), which is the sole dedicated regulator of public health professionals.
This statement has been published to set out the Faculty’s position in relation to specialist registration through portfolio routes. There are currently two possible routes for people wishing to achieve specialist registration in public health – for those with a medical background, there is the Certificate of Equivalence for Specialist Registration (CESR) process run by the GMC and this mechanism processes several hundred applications from all medical specialties each year. Alternatively, there is Specialist Registration by Portfolio Assessment (SRbPA) run by the UKPHR. This route was introduced in September 2018 and uses the Faculty of Public Health 2015 training curriculum as the knowledge base for assessment.
Faculty position statement
- The Faculty of Public Health is the standard setting body for specialists in public health. The Faculty develops the curriculum and sets and marks examinations for the specialty.
- The Faculty works very closely with both the main regulators (GMC and UKPHR) to maintain appropriate standards in public health training and practice.
- The prospective training route, with a CCT issued by FPH, should be the ‘standard’ route to registration and should be followed unless there are exceptional circumstances.
- The Faculty also recognises that there should be different routes to registration available, and that the formal training programme will not be appropriate for everyone. The retrospective portfolio routes (CESR and SRbPA) route will be suitable for a limited number of public health staff.
- The Faulty believes it is possible to reach the same standards through different routes; however, all routes to registration must be shown to be equivalent to maintain the integrity of the profession. Competencies assessed must remain equal and any portfolio assessment process must be robust and timely.
- The Faculty believes that while they should not be mandatory, the sitting of the FPH exams (DFPH and MFPH) should be normal practice for those undertaking retrospective portfolio routes to registration, and this should form an integral part of their portfolio.
- The Faculty believes that the public health system (employers, training organisations, and others) should put in place appropriate selection and support for those wishing to undertake these routes.
- Once fully registered, individuals should have full equivalence and should be treated the same regardless of the route by which they were registered.
For further details on the pathways to Specialist Registration please see this presentation: Paths to Certification