What works

April 10, 2017 in President's Blog by Andrew Furber

A fundamental part of public health practice is that we base our decisions on evidence. But getting the evidence we need for the day-to-day challenges we face is less easy. Knowing whether innovative practice is improving outcomes or wasting money can be difficult. The important research questions relevant to population health are not always addressed by funders when the incentives are weighted towards clinical issues. All of this is why we are focusing the ADPH Policy Workshop on 18 May 2017 on What Works. Look out for the agenda when it comes out shortly, but it will include dialogue with national research agencies as well as hearing about local innovation and improvement. Please note the date in your diary and plan to participate. ADPH events always evaluate very well because they are tailored and informed by the needs of our members. Justifying a day out of the office is difficult, but I’m sure this workshop will repay the investment.

If you are able to attend please bring your research questions. What are the issues you are grappling with locally? How can national bodies help? What is the best way to communicate new evidence to DsPH?

But just as importantly how are you improving public health practice using evidence locally? In England some of this will be captured in Sector Led Improvement (SLI). This approach got off to a good start, with the ADPH framework being well regarded and proving its worth. Every region in England has established a programme, but with local government funding moving to business rate retention we need to move SLI up to the next level. The Policy Workshop will be a great way to hear what others are doing and provide the inspiration to develop your own programme further. There are great examples of service improvements from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too which I hope we will hear from.

To illustrate this, we held the first workshop for the advisory group for the Four Nation Comparative Public Health System study. This research question came from colleagues in Wales wanting to understand the learning from the way the public health systems have evolved across our four nations. I am grateful to the Health Foundation for funding this work and to the University of Sheffield for delivering the research, but especially to colleagues from the four nations for engaging with the study. I’m really pleased that we have Specialty Trainees involved in the programme. Emerging findings should be available by the end of 2017.

If all this has whetted your appetite to get involved more directly in a research programme, please note that NIHR are looking for a DPH to join their Primary Care, Community and Preventive Interventions (PCCPI) advisory panel. The closing date is 21 April.

Finally the 18 May Policy Workshop will also include the ADPH AGM. It will (probably) mark the beginning of my final year as President. More importantly you will be asked to appoint board members, approve our budget and agree our business plan for the next three years. The ADPH staff team will all be there and we are hoping our newly appointed Head of Policy and Deputy Chief Executive, Isobel Howe, will be able to attend ahead of her formal starting date of 1 June. I hope that you agree that in these turbulent times it is even more important than ever that we have a strong and representative Association to fight our corner.

To register, click here.

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