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Almost a quarter of EHP jobs in England lost over a decade

'Renewed interest in external health threats should generate interest in the profession for years to come'
16 June 2021 , Katie Coyne

CIEH renewed its calls to increase funding for environmental health work, boost training and apprenticeships to ensure the future generation of talent, and campaign for a chief EH officer for England.

New analysis of the CIEH Workforce Survey data, originally published in April, found 1,000 EH roles have been lost in England over the past decade across food standards, food hygiene, health and safety and environmental protection – excluding public health and housing roles.

With 3,300 total EHP jobs in England, this represents a reduction in capacity of almost a quarter. CIEH hoped to highlight the vital nature of the sector by laying out its workforce survey findings and recommendations in a parliamentary briefing for MPs published this week.

Environmental health was mentioned as part of this year’s G7 summit proceedings. G7 health ministers, including Matt Hancock, met earlier this month in Oxford and pledged to work together to improve early identification of animal and environmental health – in its broadest sense – threats to prevent diseases from spreading.

CIEH policy and campaigns manager Tamara Sandoul, author of the survey, said: “It’s good to hear that G7 health ministers are focusing their attention on global health security in the context of climate change, environmental health and infectious diseases.

“COVID-19 has certainly changed the political landscape as well as the mindset of governments across the world and it is a big step forward to hear the mention of environmental health at a global leadership event like the G7.

“This renewed interest in external threats to health should help to generate interest in the profession for years to come.”

Last September, Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to recognise the value of EH by creating a new national register of EHPs.

Eight out of ten local authority EHPs were redeployed last year to respond to the pandemic, according to the CIEH survey, and these professionals were categorised as key workers.

Yet the survey found 31% felt statutory environmental health duties were at risk and estimated a 29% uplift in resources was needed to address this.

CIEH also wants to see the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) set out its future policy on selective licensing and respond to its commissioned review – which was positive about the effectiveness of the schemes – as this has been delayed.

CIEH, alongside the Chartered Institute of Housing, also commissioned work looking into selective licensing schemes, which was also positive about their effectiveness in improving housing conditions.

Other recommendations in the parliamentary briefing include:
• Increase financial support to local authorities (LAs) to maintain resources for regulatory and public health work.
• MHCLG to assess the resourcing needs of LA private sector housing function.
• Health and Safety Executive to highlight resource shortages and the important role LAs play in this arena, and campaign for targeted funding.
• HSE to share resources with LAs.
• Implement all the recommendations from the ongoing cross-government regulatory review.
• MHCLG to support CIEH in future recruitment campaigns.
• Introduce LA ring-fenced funding to support EH trainees and apprentices.
• Food Standards Agency to continue to provide training for EHPs doing food inspections in line with the Code of Practice requirements and training to deal with the impacts of Brexit, and novel foods.

An in-depth look at the results of the CIEH Workforce Survey appeared in the May issue of EHN (login required).

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