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Project

The future of public health and population health leadership

The King’s Fund will explore how public health and population health leaders can work – and are working – together well in the emerging health and care context.

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This project is supported by The Health Foundation

Why we're doing this project

With life expectancy and other indicators stalling and health inequalities widening for some groups, it's clear that the health of England’s population is not where we want it to be. The country is also facing economic challenges, and public services are under great pressure. This will both increase the need for public health and population health leadership and put significant pressures on it.

Strong, effective and cohesive public health and population health approaches in local and regional health and care systems are more important than ever. But their impact depends on the influence and cohesion of leadership in integrated care systems (ICSs), and how that leadership connects regionally and in place. Through this project, The King’s Fund will explore how public health and population health leaders can work – and are working – together well in the emerging health and care context.

What we are doing

Our project aims to:

  • understand the changing roles and influence of directors of public health in local authorities, ICSs and other structures such as combined and mayoral authorities

  • understand the goals, roles and ability to influence key decisions among the cohort of new and emerging population health leaders (in particular those with titles such as Director of Population Health as part or all of their role) in integrated care systems

  • develop a positive vision for how these two key leadership communities can:

    • identify the scope to work together in the light of the above setting out a positive vision and roadmap for the future, in the context of place-based approaches to population health

    • test this vision and roadmap among senior leaders, including in non-traditional public health roles, and in a number of integrated health and care systems

    • identify the barriers and risks to achieving this, eg, at national, regional and local level

  • convene a group of influential leaders from the public health and population health community to help develop and test a set of recommendations to promote the positive vision, and address identified barriers and risks.

In order to achieve these aims, we will be running a series of workshops with professionals and stakeholders in order to gauge the current state of play within public and population health, and to hear people’s ambitions and concerns for the future. We will also be exploring these dynamics in greater detail within a number of case study sites, and running interviews with other key stakeholders.

Key milestones

The workshops will begin in Autumn 2023, and the qualitative work will begin after that. These will be used to create a series of outputs that will be published in 2024.

The project team