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Nursing and the public’s health: in PHE and beyond

This blog has a dual purpose – to be a ‘calling all nurses’ message to nurses within Public Health England, and to share widely some of the great work nurses and midwives are doing across public heath, the NHS and social care.

Public Health England nurses - who are we and where are we? The power of 303!

The nursing directorate in PHE has three permanent posts and exists to make sure that we maximise the impact of public health nursing skills within PHE and in the wider system to improve the public’s health. I (Viv Bennett) am Director of Nursing for the Department of Health and PHE and Joanne Bosanquet is PHE Deputy Director of Nursing. We're the public health nursing leaders across the system. We also have PHE-wide corporate roles: for example, I am the lead for the corporate priority on ‘children, young people and families,’ and jointly with our medical director Paul Cosford lead on clinical governance. Jo has particular focus on quality and assurance and developing the public health workforce.

We undertake our nurse leadership role through strategic influence, leadership, providing and securing expert advice and making sure that our knowledge skills and impact are much more visible.

At present, PHE employs roughly 300 nurses. Around 75% are employed in the Operations Directorate and 25% are employed in specialist areas such as Infectious Diseases Surveillance and Control, Health & Wellbeing directorate or Extreme Events (to name just a few). Within the Operations Directorate, many nurses are in roles that are embedded in the NHS, such as immunisation and screening leads and the more than 150 nurses that work in PHE Centre Health Protection Teams. The power of our 303 nurses is considerable!

So, this is a call to all PHE nurses: we need to get to know each other for professional identity and support.  We need to participate in and influence the breadth of PHE activities at national regional and local level thus making sure we take all opportunities to develop and strengthen our contribution to improved public health outcomes. Nurses are already coming forward to populate some of the strategic groups at PHE to ensure strong nursing voice. We also need to know you to establish strong professional links and participate in the wider professional issues – lessons from recent enquiries and preparing for revalidation to name but two.

Joanne will be arranging regional and specialist centre visits after Christmas and we are working with many colleagues to develop a robust ‘PHE Nursing Professional Network’.  The first Network meeting is on 14th November in Birmingham and Sue Ibbotson is kindly hosting it. If you are interested in supporting this network and would like to discuss this, email

This network will act as our main professional communications channel so please ensure you have updated your profile on the intranet. If you are embedded in the NHS and are unable to access PHEnet, please get in touch with Marina to be added to the list.

PHE nurses are specialists and leaders in public health nursing and we need to maximise our impact. Our network will be very important – we need it to be effective.

What are we doing?

PHE as a new body builds on the expertise from over 100 sender organisations, which gives us enormous potential to demonstrate the value of nursing across the widest possible public health domains. As part of our national nursing strategy Compassion in Practice we recently ran a week of action to promote the contribution that nurses midwives and care staff make to improving the public’s health and reducing inequalities: ‘ 6Cs and 6 domains of public health’.   All the material from the week and quotes from top people in public health can be found on my regular blog space.

We used visits, events, nursing press, digital media and social media to link with nurses and others across health and care and promote the ‘6 domains’.  One visit that joined up my professional and corporate responsibilities was to Great Ormond Street - the picture shows some members of their ‘Young People’s Forum’ who were brilliant at talking to me about young people’s health issues.

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Jo also hosted a webinar which focused on making every contact count (or MECC), as well as filming a video, writing her first blog and visiting an immunisations outreach road show. 120 nurses took part in a Twitter chat on 31 October on how we can make MECC happen in practice.

MECC banner

If you would like to see what else we got up to, take a look at our storify from the week.

Please let us have your thought ideas and please get engaged – the first step is easy: follow us on Twitter and use it to spread the word! We're @VivjBennett @MrsBosanquet and @PHE_UK

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Bren posted on

    Hello Viv,

    The blog does reflect the remarkable depth and reach of PHE and no more so in than the power of the 303 nurses.

    I particularly liked the link to the young people's forum and making sure the young people's voice, the true experts by experience, is heard, understood and responded too.

    I am confident the power of the 303 will grow Viv, and working with the most in need is an area of real value.

    Best wishes,