Director of public health

Directors of public health hold some of the most pivotal strategic and leadership positions.


Directors of public health are responsible for determining the overall vision and objectives for public health in a local area or in a defined area of public health, such as health protection. They are accountable for delivering public health objectives and reporting annually on the outcomes and future work. They may be from any background, but must be qualified specialists in public health and registered with the General Medical Council or General Dental Council or UK Public Health Register.

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Director of public health roles

In England, there are a number of directors of public health in local authorities and in Public Health England. There are further roles in Health Boards in Scotland and Wales, and in the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. The following list doesn't include all of the roles available for directors of public health, but provides examples of the types of roles available.

Director of public health working in English local authority

By law, every local authority must appoint a director of public health. The director works across all three main 'domains' of public health (health protection, health improvement, healthcare public health).

Directors are responsible for ensuring that public health is at the heart of their local authority’s agenda. Using the best and most appropriate evidence, they determine the overall vision and aims for public health in their locality. They then manage the delivery of those objectives and report annually on their activities.

The role is incredibly varied, challenging and rewarding and can involve:

Centre director working in Public Health England

Centre directors in Public Health England provide oversight and leadership for all activities in a particular region or centre. Their main activity is to lead health protection services (for example the development of regional strategies and plans for protecting the health of the public). In addition, they oversee the systems for: the monitoring of local diseases (eg statistics on cases and distribution); laboratory services (eg for microbiological investigation of diseases); and the investigation and management of incidents (eg a chemical spill or outbreak of e-coli). 

Centre directors in Public Health England forge strong links with the directors of public health working in local authorities.

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