Officers who lack health qualifications should be kept out of the director of public health posts expected to arise once this activity returns to local government.
That call has come in a paper from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health in the ‘pause’ the government has allowed for reconsideration of parts of the Health and Social Care Bill.
The institute fears that unresolved public health issues in the bill are in danger of being ignored amid disputes over health commissioning and competition.
It said directors of public health would need to take a multi-disciplinary approach “and it would be anachronistic if [their] qualifications were not to reflect this”.
CIEH head of policy David Kidney said: “We do not want directors of social services or whatever to be designated as directors of public health. We are with the medics on that, but we don’t think they should have to be medics either.”
People with either medical or environmental health qualifications would both be suitable to do the job, he said.
The CIEH has also called for the recreation of the post of chief environmental health officer, which it said existed before 1974 when public health was removed from local government’s responsibilities.
Mr Kidney said this post would “be of significant value in helping to forge and manage services that need to be fully integrated”.
A statutory duty to cooperate on public health should be imposed all partners, the CIEH said, modelled on the similar duty for civil contingencies.