Skip navigation
September 29, 2023
ADPH seal logo

A hard act to follow

He always goes the extra mile for staff and members alike, and always puts people’s health and wellbeing at the front and centre of his actions.

Nicola Close
ADPH Chief Executive

Jim hasn’t just been the public face of ADPH. His commitment to supporting his peers has been second to none.

Greg Fell
ADPH Vice President

Next week, we say a fond farewell to our current President, Prof Jim McManus as he steps down from his role as a Director of Public Health (DPH) and embarks on a new adventure as National Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health Wales.

Jim became a member of ADPH on his appointment as DPH of Birmingham in 2010. He became DPH for Hertfordshire in 2012 and has been an active member ever since, embodying the Association’s ethos of collaborative, evidence-based working.

Over the last 11 years, Jim has worn a number of different hats in addition to his day job, which as DPH for a population of 1.2 million people is in itself no small feat. He always goes the extra mile for staff and members alike, and always puts people’s health and wellbeing at the front and centre of his actions.

As a Board member, Jim has overseen the development of our policy, advocating for national change on a huge range of public health issues. His work on suicide prevention and sexual health has been particularly impactful, as has his advocacy for refugees and asylum seekers. Jim has also worked tirelessly to improve public health practice across the system, helping ADPH ‘level the playing field’ so that DsPH can learn and benefit from successful programmes from across the UK and implement effective public health measures for their local populations.

During the pandemic, he led the way nationally by bringing together local industry partners to provide PPE at a time of acute demand. He was also instrumental in developing effective modelling, which was recognised as best practice by colleagues in the NHS and, by drawing on his background in psychology, Jim supported the local workforce to understand and engage with Covid-19 measures, publishing documents that were used as footprints for supporting communities across the UK.

During this time, DsPH – and ADPH – were thrust into the media spotlight, and as both ADPH Vice President and President, Jim was always on hand to act as spokesperson, offering a balanced perspective for people from all backgrounds, advising Government, advocating for peers and reassuring the public.

Jim has most recently led our contribution to the Covid-19 Public Inquiry, representing the collective voice of all our members in Module One. Thanks to Jim’s calm and measured testimony, the Inquiry Team have been given a clear picture of what the DPH role was – and what it should be – in pandemic preparedness.

Last year, in a video produced to celebrate the 175th anniversary of DsPH, Jim said that his biggest challenge has been getting people to think about health in complex ways. This is of course an ongoing challenge and one we at ADPH will continue to tackle. However, there is no doubt that throughout his time at ADPH, Jim has helped break down the barriers to explaining why this is so important. In countless interviews, blogs and articles, Jim has made an eloquent and indisputable case for health being so much more than healthcare and explained to politicians, journalists and the public why housing, jobs, education and our physical and psychosocial environments are equally important.

Jim hasn’t just been the public face of ADPH though and his commitment to supporting his peers has been second to none. Not only has Jim formally mentored many new and less experienced DsPH, he has never been too busy to give advice or guidance to anyone on a one-off or ongoing basis – something we can both testify to and will be forever grateful for.

For all these reasons – and more – Jim has been an astoundingly good leader for ADPH, and for public health more broadly. The organisation has gone from strength to strength under his calm, committed and compassionate leadership and whoever our next President is, they have a very hard act to follow!


Back to top