Employment and the public’s health: what is the role of the DPH?

June 30, 2017 in ADPH Updates, President's Blog by Andrew Furber

None of us can be in any doubt that having a good job is an important determinant of our health and wellbeing. And losing your job is one of life’s significant events. But when the area’s major local employer closes down the impact on the community can be profound and long lasting.

So what is the role of the local Director of Public Health when it comes to jobs and economic development? Public Health Wales have published guidance on a public health response to Mass Unemployment Events (MUEs). The report not only highlights the impact on health and wellbeing of such devastating situations, but draws on the evidence to describe how the response should include public health action. These actions range from identifying and building resilience in communities vulnerable to MUEs, actions to support health and wellbeing of affected communities and an evaluation of the response to inform future action.

Any public health response cannot be in isolation from the wider response to such tragedies. The report describes the role health and wellbeing plays alongside interventions to access employment opportunities and mitigate financial hardship.

There are now a number of examples of where Directors of Public Health are applying their skills and resources to economic development as a means to improving health and wellbeing. The Greater Manchester Public Health Network is using their devolution powers to prioritise better employment. The Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Network is developing a narrative around inclusive economic growth. You can hear more about both of these and views from myself and John Middleton, the President of the Faculty of Public Health, at the Public Health England conference on 12-13 September. Come along and share your experience.

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