Public Health in Plymouth

Our goal is to reduce health inequalities through impacting on health and on the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.

The City Vision refers to everyone enjoying an outstanding quality of life; this requires the reduction of inequalities, and improvements in health and wellbeing which impact considerably on our quality of life.

Much of our work relates to these wider determinants, and we influence health and wellbeing through;

  • Developing health-promoting environments
  • Changing the context of choice
  • Improving the quality of services across the city
  • Protecting the public from harm

Plymouth is a City of approximately 260,000 and is situated in a largely rural and coastal area in the South West peninsula and offers a great place to live and work. Described in the Plymouth Fairness Commission report as a “Tale of Two Cities”, Plymouth is a compact City with areas of deprivation and affluence operating across a relatively small area.

Our systems leadership approach, and being a unitary Council, means that we have the opportunity and ability to influence the full workings of a city.

Addressing the inequalities in Plymouth is a key priority for the City and in November 2014 Thrive Plymouth was launched. Based on four behaviours that cause four main diseases which account for 54% of deaths in Plymouth (4-4-54), the plan has been adopted by the City and provides a key vehicle for connecting the whole systems activity for public health inequalities over the next ten years.

Headed by Dr Ruth Harrell, as the Director of Public Health (DPH), the Office of the Director of Public Health (ODPH) is a directorate of Plymouth City Council, and as such the DPH is a corporate director accountable to the Chief Executive.

The ODPH combines the three service areas of public health, public protection and civil protection, thereby offering trainees opportunities to work with teams which have statutory public protection functions such as environmental health, emergency planning and resilience and trading standards. The public health team itself is a multi-disciplinary public health team with team members coming from diverse backgrounds, who work across the three domains of public health.

A key component of Plymouth’s strategic intent is integration. Central to this approach is co-operative commissioning, where services are designed around the needs of people and they are involved in this process of commissioning and service delivery. Integration of health and local authority commissioning for population health and wellbeing is being embedded as a strategic objective in Plymouth. Located in Windsor House, the public health team is co-located with the NEW Devon Clinical Commissioning Group and Plymouth City Council commissioning teams, with whom we have an integrated budget of some £460 million. As the first LA to integrate budgets, this fund has now been in place for 5 years and has enabled PH to broaden its influence and pursue new models of integrated support for people, such as the co-creation of Wellbeing Hubs which utilise the community and voluntary sector to support people as well as offering social prescribing. There are excellent opportunities for public health trainees to support and give advice on strategic population and needs led commissioning.

Recognising the importance of the wider determinants of health and the contribution to these made across the Local Authority, the public health team also provides named links into the other Plymouth City Council directorates, enabling the public health team to work in partnership with planning, housing, leisure, education, social care, policy and performance to name but a few and creates a broad range of training opportunities.

Excellent working relationships are in place with a range of partner organisations, including:

  • Plymouth University, University of St. Mark and St. John and City College for teaching and research opportunities
  • University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust is a large teaching hospital and regional centre
  • Plymouth Community Healthcare CIC
  • The Police, Fire and Ambulance services
  • Plymouth Community Homes
  • A vibrant voluntary and community sector in the City with which to engage – many of whom are already providers of commissioning public health services

The public health team is committed to training and professional development for the team itself, public health trainees and those from other health services training schemes, Examples include supporting public health practitioners to undertake Masters in Public Health, acting as a host training location for health information specialists, paediatricians and medical students,

We are a friendly and committed team working in a City of and surrounded by great natural beauty, with a high ambition to address the health and wellbeing challenges found within the City. There is plenty of public health to do and learn in Plymouth, really good partnerships have been made and therefore we can offer a substantial public health training location. But don’t just take our word for it! This is what has been said of us . . . .

“The Public Health team and local authority colleagues are incredibly supportive and accommodating of trainees.”

"I certainly felt as though I was a permanent member of the team during my time there."

“Every member of the Public Health team contributed to my learning in some way.”

We would love to welcome you here.

Further information: