Description of Training Programme

A guide to Public Health training in the West Midlands (Please note changes maybe required as determined by the Postgraduate School of Public Health (PHS)). Applications are welcomed from Foundation Year 2 doctors and others who are appropriately qualified.

Entry to the scheme

Higher Specialist Training entry is usually at the first year of the Specialist Registrar/Specialist Trainee level, although we are always prepared to consider applicants who have appropriately completed part of their training elsewhere and wish to transfer to the West Midlands.

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Academic Training

All Higher Specialist trainees who enter the training scheme are assigned an academic trainer, in addition to their service trainer. Usually, this is a full time academic member of staff at the University of Birmingham or Warwick University. The trainee and academic trainer meet once a term and discuss the progress of the trainee with the academic parts of the training. The academic trainer will also help the trainee to develop work for publications and help those trainees who wish to pursue a higher degree.

Academic training in public health is mainly done within the department of Public Health and Epidemiology at the University of Birmingham. The foundation of this training at the start of the programme is a 8 months Master of Public Health (MPH) course. This modular course covers a broad range of the theoretical aspects of public health and is completed by a research project. If trainees already have a relevant qualification, they do not need to sit the MPH and can start in the second year of training. Details of the MPH course can be found on the University of Birmingham website (

One of the aims of the MPH is to prepare candidates for the part A MFPH. In addition to this trainees will also have many Wednesday Tutorials spent at the university covering issues for part I and past paper questions for the part A exam. Trainees are required to sit the part A MFPH examination within a year of finishing their MPH course.

Public Health Training in PCTs

Much public health work is project based, with long term horizons. In PCTs, public health departments see their role as assessing the needs of the population for health care, helping to change clinical services and other agencies to provide that care, and contributing to protecting the health of the population through the control of communicable disease and environmental hazards. Public Health trainees negotiate a training plan with their trainers. This plan is renewed and assessed every 6 months to ensure that the trainees receive good experience. All trainees are expected to substantially rotate at least once in their training. Usually, this is to a nearby PCT which are organised into Public Health Networks. Trainees also undertake short placements at for example the Regional Observatory, Health Protection Agency, Regional Government Office, Strategic Health Authority.


PCT and Local Authority training location zones suitable for trainees to preference for general training. **

Zone PCT (as at 2011)
Shropshire/Staffordshire Shropshire County PCT
Telford and Wrekin PCT
Stoke PCT
South Staffordshire PCT
North Staffordshire PCT
Black Country (Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall, Wolverhampton) Wolverhampton City PCT
Walsall PCT (Teaching)
Dudley PCT
Sandwell PCT 
Birmingham and Solihull

Heart of Birmingham PCT (Teaching)
Birmingham East and North PCT
South Birmingham PCT
Solihull PCT
Birmingham City Council

Coventry & Warwickshire Coventry City PCT (Teaching) and City Council
Warwickshire PCT
Herefordshire & Worcestershire

Worcestershire PCT
Herefordshire PCT

Specialist Registrar & Specialist Trainee

The Higher Specialist training scheme balances academic training with experience of working in public health. Most trainees will spend the majority of their service training in PCTs **. Academic post opportunities at the Universities of Birmingham, Warwick, Keele and Wolverhampton are available as part of the programme. Each public health trainee is assigned a trainer, with whom the trainee meets every week to discuss their work. Increasingly there are training opportunities in Local Authorities and Primary Care settings. The scheme has been specifically developed for both registered medical practitioners (who become SpRs) and for those from other backgrounds (who become SpTs). The training scheme is one aspect of the programme within the region to develop the capacity and capability of the public health function.

Health Protection Training

Placements exist for general Health Protection training in each of the three Health Protection Agency Units in the region.

SpRs/SpTs may also take up placements out of the region (post part B) eg with the Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre (CDSC) in London and the four 3 month specialised health protection placements within the West Midlands.


The Training Experience


Specialty training in public health takes four years and 8 months for those without an MPH at the start of training and proportionately longer for those training less than full time (LTFT). For those new registrars who already have completed a Masters in Public Health (MPH), the training time will be reduced to four years with entry into ST2 (2nd year) of the training programme.

The West Midlands zone is divided into five areas:

  • Coventry and Warwickshire

  • Black Country

  • Hereford and Worcester

  • Birmingham and Solihull

  • Staffordshire

T he 2010 curriculum, available on the FPH website, is based on an understanding of what a consultant in public health needs to know and needs to be able to do. The curriculum helps you to build basic skills onto a knowledge platform and to consolidate those skills in increasingly complex work and diverse environments.


The Postgraduate School of Public Health (PHS) oversee the placement of trainees and, providing they feel that the quality of the experience is good, trainees can arrange to be appropriately seconded to other locations. 

The Faculty of Public Health also approves some posts outside the United Kingdom for training purposes. It is possible for SpRs/SpTs to apply to rotate from the West Midlands Training Scheme to a national or overseas post once they have passed Part B MFPH.

You will progress through three training phases, each of which has specific milestones:


  • The first phase concentrates on the acquisition of knowledge relevant to public health practice and gives an opportunity for development of basic skills including basic health protection work.  Key milestones for satisfactory progress are the MPH and each constituent module; the Part A examination; and a Health Protection attachment

  • The second phase allows development of a wider set of skills in increasingly complex service work.  You will move from projects to programmes of work with greater responsibility.  You will need to pass the Objective Structured Public Health Examination and to develop a clear plan for the remainder of training.

  • The final phase of training will allow you to consolidate your competence and develop specialist skills in an area of interest or possible future career options.  You should be a respected member of the public health network, developing a strong reputation outside of your host organisation as well as with senior people in house.   You will develop a convincing track record of delivery of public health outcomes.


Teaching and Research


All Public Health Specialists should be able to carry out disciplined investigations and to analyse and interpret data. These abilities are fundamental to all of their specialist work. They should also be competent in communication, in person-to-person and small group discussions, in talking to various types of audience, and in written resentations. These skills of communication and investigation are basic to teaching and research, and conversely experience in teaching and research will enhance and develop the skills. Therefore, these are important aspects of training for all Public Health Specialists





Specialist attachments



Trainees with special interests or career intentions in a particular branch of Public Health practice many undertake attachments to other accredited organisations in order to gain relevant experience.







Each phase of training has a set of expected learning outcomes to be achieved.  Phases one and two have examination milestones as well.  

The Part A exam tests a detailed curriculum which is published at

Success in this exam depends on a strong individual knowledge base, a thorough understanding of the context and application of that knowledge, and a certain amount of exam technique.  Although completing the MPH will give you a good academic grounding in public health and helps you to prepare, the Part A Faculty exam is a challenge for most, if not all, Specialty Registrars.  It will be up to you to prepare well and make the most of the support that will be available to you, and you must take advantage of the regional support offered. 

The Part B exam, or OSPHE (Objective Structured Public Health Exam) is a scenario based, face to face exam in which candidates are expected to demonstrate excellent public health skills in communication, handling information, problem solving and dealing with uncertainty.  A larger proportion of SpRs pass this exam at the first attempt compared to the Part A.  You will perform better in the OPSHE if you have regularly taken responsibility for handling everyday public health problems in a team context.  For example, drafting a response to an MP’s enquiry to your CEO, or answered a press enquiry.  The West Midlands School holds mock exams for both Part A and Part B prior to candidates sitting the real thing and detailed feedback will be given on how to improve performance.



On call

Depending on local clinical governance arrangements trainees participate in the public health on-call out of hours rota for communicable disease and environmental health after passing part A and after satisfactory assessment by local Health Protection Consultants and can continue this training up until CCT or equivalent. On call is undertaken in line with Band 1C ( and AfC 2007/1 for the same amounts of on call ). Guaranteed consultant grade cover is available at all times. If no on-call is undertaken a basic salary only is paid and work arrangements accommodate this accordingly

Study Leave in the West Midlands

Trainees have a nominal budget to spend on courses and conferences as determined by the Postgraduate Dean and the PHS. In addition, there are a series of free courses run by the training scheme that cover core skills that are not covered in the academic training. These are often participatory courses. Recent examples of this kind of training including writing skills, media interviews, CV and interview skills, presentation skills. Trainees give feedback and video is used to develop these skills which are important in public health.

The arrangements described in this document are subject to change as the service develops and changes as appropriate will be arranged by the Training Committee.

Please click HERE to find the Study leave application form and Study Leave policy for the West Midlands.


Trainees will normally have one hour dedicated tutorial time with their Educational Supervisor each week. Attendance is expected at weekly department business and audit meetings and tutorials/learning sets arranged by the regional training scheme and/or local Public Health Networks.

Your Working Day


Hours of work

Full time trainees who have an on call/out of hours frequency of zero will work less than 40 hours per week on average between 8.00 am to 7.00 pm Monday to Friday and receive a basic salary and those who do on call a maximum of 48 hours per week on average and in accordance with (and not exceeding) Band IC of T&Cs. These hours do not include time spent on private study.


Making Progress


Yearly Assessment

In common with all Higher Specialist Training programmes, we have a yearly assessment process. Trainees must make satisfactory progress during the year in order to continue into the next part of the scheme. Any problems with training should be apparent through regular appraisals leading up to the annual assessments.


Completing Training 

When you come to compete for a consultant level post towards the end of your training, you will need a track record of teamwork, leadership, influence and delivery of organisational objectives to draw on in your job applications.



Satisfactory completion of training leads to a CCT and registration on either the GMC specialist register or the UK Public Health register ( Specialist registration is mandatory to practice as a consultant in public health in the UK. StRs may begin to apply for consultant level posts within 6 months of their CCT but cannot take up a post until completion of training.

Please refer to "A Guide to Finishing Training" for more information.

Terms and Conditions of Service

National Terms and Conditions for Public Health Doctors in the NHS at trainee level. SpTs are on national T&C’s under agenda for change as described in Pay Circular. AfC (1/2007) or subsequent revisions.

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More information is available on the HR Policies and Forms page


**Regarding Public Health Reforms

** "Please note that under Liberating the NHS" and "Healthy Lives Healthy People" subject to the passage if the Health & Social Care Bill, Public Health will move from the SHA, PCTs and HPA into Local Authorities and the newly formed Public Health England and NHS Commuming Board. It is planned that Public Health Training will be in Public Health Departments covering similar geographical areas on present but relocated on above.