Last year, Health Education England (HEE) launched the first national Population Health Fellowship for NHS clinical staff in England to great success. Now, one year on, the next cohort is already full too.
HEE is now looking to fill places on future cohorts, as well as seeking partnerships with organisations to host the fellows, as well as the clinicians themselves.
The fellowship aims to develop a workforce of professionals who will incorporate population health into their everyday roles.
Population health is a wide-view approach to health which aims to improve it across an entire population, through steps improving the physical and mental health outcomes and wellbeing of people, while also reducing health inequalities within and across a defined population.
It typically includes action to reduce the occurrence of ill health, including addressing wider determinants of health – such as housing and unemployment rates – and typically requires co-working across communities and partner organisations to achieve success.
The Population Health Fellowship pilot programme was created to distribute population health skills among the wider clinical workforce, where development of these skills has been recognised as being needed.
Aligned with the objectives of the NHS Long Term Plan, the programme supports clinical back fill while also promoting local ownership of skills development which otherwise may not have happened.
The first cohort saw 16 fellows selected from a wide range of backgrounds, including nursing, midwifery, pharmacy, medicine, speech and language therapy, dietetics, orthotics, and physiotherapy.
These health professionals were then seconded part-time to the fellowship alongside their permanent post, spending two days per week of their time learning and developing their population health skills.
The second cohort, who begin this week, consists of 28 fellows. As HEE continues to recruit for future cohorts, it expects the interest and numbers to continue to rise.
Professor Wendy Reid, Director of Education and Quality and Medical Director HEE said: “The pandemic has created so many challenges but also many opportunities and within population health this has never been more true.
“Healthcare is increasingly focused on optimising patient care and outcomes at the population level and therefore clinicians across all of healthcare require skills in population health to achieve this.
“We aim to recruit clinicians with outstanding potential for this Fellowship programme and develop them into a faculty capable of incorporating population health in their local work systems to improve patient outcomes.
“As the programme develops there will be an ever-growing group of population health practitioners from various professions and I look forward to seeing the leaders they will become in this important field of work.”
Carolyn Royse, an orthotist who joined the Population Health Fellowship in 2020, added: “My fellowship involved working with Wessex Activation, Self-Management and Personalisation (WASP) team on a self-assessment tool to review the delivery of personalised care to a population of adults with diabetes.
“It has opened doors for me to widen my influence and has made me consider my practice and how what I do relates within a much wider system.
“I will continue to work with WASP on a secondment after my fellowship has ended and hope to continue to impact the systems I work in and with.”