South West Public Health Specialty Training Programme

Bristol Training Location Prospectus


Reasons to choose Bristol


Bristol enjoys a reputation as a vibrant, thriving city with a good quality of life. With a population of around 440,000 it is one of England’s core cities and the seventh largest city outside the capital. It is rapidly growing, with a relatively young and increasingly diverse population.

Bristol is culturally, socially and economically varied, with some stark contrasts. Areas among the most deprived 1% in the country lie alongside affluent areas.  Bristol ranks as one of the healthiest of the core cities, but within the city there are large differences in health and life expectancy, which do not appear to be improving.   Almost a quarter of Bristol children grow up in poverty. Harm from alcohol misuse is rising. Bristol has high rates of drug misuse, TB and sexually transmitted infections. Premature mortality rates vary up to three fold across areas of the city.

The training location and team

Specialty registrars, other trainees and consultants are based in the newly refurbished City Hall on College Green in the centre of the city, together with the public health core support team including evidence and economics, public health intelligence and business support. 

Agile working is actively encouraged and supported across the council with all staff having laptops and supporting technology to work in a variety of locations.

Registrars are an integral part of the public health team, participating in public health senior management team meetings and learning and collaborative opportunities across the wider council.

The public health team enjoy good working relationships with colleagues in Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which provides registrars with excellent opportunities for joint work.  The Director of Public Health is a member of the CCG Governing Body.

Educational supervisors

  • Dr Viv Harrison - Consultant in Public Health and the Specialty Tutor and training lead for Bristol. Viv leads the Adults and Older People’s public health team.
  • Becky Pollard -the Director of Public Health.
  • Jo Williams – Consultant in Public Health, Children and Young People
  • Dr Joanna Copping  - Consultant in Public Health, Children and Young people & Core Support
  • Leonie Roberts – Consultant in Public Health, Mental Health and Social Inclusion
  • Sally Hogg - Consultant in Public Health, Healthy Lifestyles and Place

A number of other senior members of the public health team are accredited project supervisors and experienced in working with registrars and other trainees towards achievement of learning outcomes.

Public Health Bristol offers a rich learning environment for registrars. Registrars from other specialties - sexual health and paediatrics – regularly undertake placements in the public health team. Bimonthly specialty training meetings are held for educational supervisors and specialty registrars to discuss training issues together.

Lunchtime learning sessions on a range of topics are led by public health staff including trainees. Learning for consultant practice is consolidated through in house reflective learning sessions. These are regular hourly sessions when registrars meet with a consultant or senior public health programme manager to discuss day to day challenges of public health practice.

Public Health in Bristol City Council

Bristol has a directly elected mayor, elected for a 4 year term. The current cabinet consists of the mayor, (elected May 2016) and 9 executive members (assistant mayors). The portfolio of the cabinet member for city health and wellbeing includes public health. There are 70 councillors, representing 35 electoral wards. The cabinet provide leadership, propose the budget and policy framework and implement policy through strategic directors. The elected mayor has ultimate responsibility for all major policy decisions. Bristol has a city director to whom the 4 strategic directors are accountable.

Public health sits within the Council’s Neighbourhoods Directorate, overseen by the Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods. The Director of Public Health is a member of the Neighbourhoods Leadership Team.  The mayor’s vision strongly supports public healthaims, including addressing wider determinants of health and to give every child the best start in life and to reduce health inequalities.

Bristol’s public health function is delivered through 6 teams: Children and Young People, Adults and Older People, Healthy Lifestyles and Place, Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Health Protection and Sexual Health, and Core Support. Each team is led by a consultant in public health.

Public health teams include health improvement practitioners delivering community public health interventions and promoting close collaborative working with communities and their organisations. This facilitates opportunities for direct involvement in health improvement project work.

Wider partnerships and opportunities

  • Public Health England  The consultant post for health protection and sexual health is shared between the Council and Public Health England, facilitating joint working and learning opportunities. Registrars contribute to the out of hours health protection on call rota with PHE. The local PHE office is just across the road from the councils’ Temple Street base.
  • West of England Public Health Partnership Public Health Bristol has a long history of working closely with its neighbours in South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. The West of England Public Health Partnership oversees a work programme across the 3 areas; this includes a shared core offer to which Bristol contributes. Registrars have gained good experience particularly in strategic and collaborative work through contributing to work across this larger footprint. The new Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) is being developed across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
  • Academic links Bristol has excellent links with the two Universities in the city – the University of the West of England (UWE) and the University of Bristol. UWE runs a masters in public health and provides opportunities for registrar placements and for teaching experience.  Registrars regularly contribute to teaching at the University of Bristol and UWE and take up opportunities for involvement in research with academic colleagues and to undertake academic placements.

    The NIHR CLAHRC West (National Institute for Health Research – Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care) is based in Bristol bringing local opportunities for collaborative research and for learning through seminars and short courses. The public health team also have good links with Avon Primary Care Research Collaborative (APCRC), which supports research, use of evidence and evaluation in healthcare and knowledge mobilisation. The APCRC is co-located with Bristol CCG. Proximity to this range of institutions and partnerships allows ready access to local academic learning opportunities and experience, including seminars, lectures, short courses and academic research.
  • NHS Public Health Bristol works closely with NHS colleagues in Bristol CCG as part of the local core offer. Members of the senior public health team participate in CCG leadership and clinical steering groups.  Hot desking alongside CCG colleagues supports this collaborative working. The team also contributes to shared core offer work across the West of England Partnership. The Council is a partner in Bristol Health Partners – a collaboration across local NHS Trusts, the two universities and the Council, to promote health and improved service delivery through integration and development of health services, research and education.

Public Health Bristol hosts other clinical trainees, including in sexual health and in paediatrics, to undertake short term placements. Good working relationships quickly develop between trainees, and public health registrars are encouraged to use the opportunity to gain experience in supervision and support of other staff. 

The public health registrar perspective

Examples of recent registrars’ work:

  • Leading development of an area-wide Oral Health Promotion Strategy and Delivery Plan, as part of the West of England Public Health Partnership work plan. Cross boundary working enabled exposure to differing population need and organisational priorities.
  • Developing a health profile for Avonmouth - an area with perceived high levels of air pollution, in response to public concern. This used routine and local data and was developed and presented in conjunction with Public Health England
  • Literature review of evidence for the ‘Make Every Contact Count’  programme to inform and  support the  Bristol MECC plan
  • NHS Health Checks Quality Assurance framework development for use with primary care Health Checks providers.
  • Evaluating a health champion led smoke-free programme for BME and deprived communities, using qualitative research methods, and presenting results and recommendations to councillors.
  • Developing a research proposal for NIHR CLAHRC West around evaluating missed opportunities for contraception among vulnerable young women, with the University of Bristol and sexual health services.

What registrars say about Bristol

SWPH specialty training programme quote bubbles

Link to ourJoint Strategic Needs Assessment and Vision and Priorities Plan 

For more information please contact:

Dr Viv Harrison, Consultant in Public Health and Bristol Specialty Tutor

Tel: 07900 705181