Valuable work of verifiers

By Dr Patrick Saunders FRCP FFPH, Director Carolan57 Ltd, Visiting Professor of Public Health University of Staffordshire and Associate Director of WHO Collaborating Centre 

I served as a verifier for the UKPHR public health practitioner (PHP) scheme from 2013 to July 2019, in the West Midlands.

This is a key role in maintaining the rigour of the assessment process and therefore the competence of Public Health Practitioners. These colleagues are invariably at the front line of public health practice delivering fundamental and critical services protecting and promoting health and reducing inequalities.

It is essential that such professionals are objectively ‘fit for purpose’, professionally current and subject to routine assessment against established criteria.  The public health practitioner registration process does just that, protecting the public, the professional and the employer and I have been fortunate to play a part in it maturing so effectively.

I have often reflected that I was not subject to such scrutiny in the early part of my career when the consequences of shortcomings would have been potentially much more serious than when I was regulated in the final phase of my career in a senior role!

The role of the verifier is recognised and valued by UKPHR and Health Education England as a key independent resource. The mechanics of the process are well honed and designed to enable the verifier to do their job as seamlessly as possible.

It was never a burden for me, administration was efficient, and the team provided support and advice as required.

My input was valued and actioned and I really felt that I was making a difference to the rigour of the system. This was hugely rewarding on both a professional and personal level.

I developed real insight into and understanding of the process and benefited enormously from the interaction with the Verification Panels and especially the moderators.  I also garnered new knowledge and understanding from the applicants’ submissions which reflect the diversity of our public health community.

I often spent more time than I was expected to in reading material as some of it was excellent and based in areas where my technical knowledge was limited. This was an unexpected bonus and contributed to my own CPD requirements, something I’m most definitely going to miss!

I would unreservedly recommend colleagues to act as verifiers – the benefits of doing so dwarf the input required.