Public Health Devon

Training Opportunities with Public Health


Devon County Council has a range of opportunities for registrars who choose to have a placement with us. The team is based at County Hall in Exeter.

Many of Public Health Team, including the Director and Assistant Directors have worked together for a number of years, including within NHS Devon Primary Care Trust.

The move to the local authority in 2013 saw the team develop to commission the public health services and also to integrate more closely with Devon County Council. There are strong links across the 3 Local Authorities within the STP which provides great opportunities for system working across the NHS/LA landscape.

The team is vibrant and enthusiastic with a strong commitment to training. 

Location & Population

Devon has a population of over 760 000 making it the largest local authority in the south west and one of  the largest Counties in England. It is the seventh most sparsely populated local authority in England with the population living in 28 market towns and the city of Exeter.

It has beautiful landscape, including the two national parks of Dartmoor and Exmoor, and extensive coastline. The rurality presents challenges in providing services and access to services. Rural deprivation is one of the main challenges in Devon with low average wages and high housing costs.

The population is older than the average for England, and projections are for significant growth in the older (85+) age group. During the summer months the population is increased with large numbers of tourists. The University of Exeter also adds significant numbers to the population.

Devon is generally a healthy place to live, with good Public Health outcomes, but this does hide pockets of deprivation around Exeter and North Devon.

Devon is a two- tiered local authority with eight district councils. It links to two Clinical Commissioning Groups, which will work as one from 1 April 2019 as part of the emerging Integrated Care System.

Commitment to Training

Devon has a range of students and trainees with the department and prides itself on its approach to training. This includes internal opportunities, apprenticeships, training posts, work experience days or placements, internships, secondments, formal courses and university students.  All Consultants are educational supervisors, and senior staff are encouraged to become project supervisors. Many members of the team have or are completing the Masters in Public Health.

Training Opportunities

Devon offers some fascinating opportunities across a rural and urban environment. Opportunities exist to gain experience working with district authorities, and across the STP/CCG. It is possible to have placements within the acute hospital setting and clinical commissioning group and we have close links to the Clinical Effectiveness Team. There is a local Health Protection Office in Totnes where registrars gain their experience and take part in the ‘on call’ rota. There are a number of Registrars at any one time providing a great opportunity for peer support.

It is possible to work with the Universities, gain teaching experience and link into local colleagues and opportunities.

Social Marketing

Within Devon there is strong background of using social marketing techniques to target Public Health interventions. There have been several projects using social marketing techniques including a skin cancer project, antibiotic reduction programme and increasing vaccination rates. 

Public Health Intelligence

The team of analysts head up the intelligence functions and produce a range of information, health needs assessments and performance monitoring that is used within the Local Authority and Clinical Commissioning Group/STP. There are some exciting developments in the use of linked data sets and using this to inform programmes

This team oversees the maintaining and updating of the Public health website:


The team is led by Dr Virginia Pearson who is currently also the Director of Public Health for Cornwall and Chief Officer for Communities, Public Health, Environment and Prosperity (CoPHEP) this provides opportunities to work across the Local Authority. There is a Deputy Director of Public Health and two Assistant Directors and an additional four consultants from a range of professional backgrounds.

Accredited Educational Supervisors – key roles:

Dr Virginia Pearson – Director of Public Health Devon and Cornwall, Chief Officer

  • Member of the senior management team for Devon County Council reporting directly to the Chief Executive
  • Holds statutory responsibilities for the health of Devon
  • Production of the annual Public Health report.
  • Medical background as GP and Chief Executive within the NHS

Steve Brown – Deputy Director of Public Health (Devon and Cornwall until end September 2019)

  • Provide senior level public health leadership and advice to the Local Authority Officers and Members
  • Deputise for the Director of Public Health as required
  • Academic background in sports science

Tracey Polak – Assistant Director / Consultant Focus on Healthcare Public Health

  • Provides evidence of effectiveness and impact on healthcare inequalities.
  • Leads on Public Health input into the ‘core offer’ 
  • Leads on training within the Public Health Team
  • Academic background in science
  • Clinical background in nursing/health visiting

Tina Henry – Assistant Director/ Consultant Focus on Health Improvement, Emergency planning (Specialty tutor)

  • Leads for Health Improvement and STP Prevention and lead for Emergency Planning and the Devon Emergency Planning Partnership
  • Drives health improvement and the reduction of health inequalities
  • Environmental Health leadership career background

Dr Sara Gibbs – Consultant

  • Leads for sexual health and tobacco control
  • Has an interest in international and global public health, and active as an organiser for TEDx Exeter.
  • Academic background in geography and medical anthropology PhD

Activity Supervisors accredited ES in Spring 2019

Sarah Ogilvie – Consultant (starts March 2019)

  • Leads on the health protection responsibilities for Devon County Council and Public Mental Health
  • Interest in Health Protection and Health Psychology background PhD

Simon Chant – Consultant

  • Intelligence leadership for Devon County Council and STP
  • Supports the Health and Wellbeing Board and development of the joint health and wellbeing strategy, and joint strategic needs assessment
  • Leads on partnership work with members of the board

Dr Emily Youngman – Consultant

  • Children and young people and substance misuse lead
  • Healthcare PH
  • Medical background  

Dr Anna Richards – Consultant

  • Currently on secondment with PHE
  • Academic background in research including PhD

Academic Links

There are good links with the University of Exeter through a range of departments, and the University of Exeter Medical School.

The senior staff within Devon Public Health, including registrars, teach sessions to medical students in years 3, 4 and 5 at Exeter Medical School and support many bespoke sessions. Many individuals in the team sit on Advisory Boards and are linked to research.

Recent Registrars Work

  • Transitions from CYP substance misuse services, trauma specific services and end of life Health Needs Assessments
  • STP business cases development for community infection, prevention and control and physical health of Individuals with serious mental illness
  • Evidence reviews to support commissioning
  • Equity audits including LARC
  • Evaluation of commissioned healthy weight programme
  • Leading the Knowledge and Skills Exchange for CoPHEP


Contact: Tina Henry Assistant Director/ Consultant in Public Health

01392 386383