Environmental Health Together launched to combat COVID-19

09 November 2020, Ross Matthewman

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), Local Government Association (LGA), Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), and NHS Test and Trace, have announced the launch of Environmental Health Together. This fulfils the Government’s pledge to create an official register of environmental health professionals to support local authorities through the pandemic.

The environmental health profession has played a critical role in protecting public health during the current coronavirus pandemic. From business support and guidance, to test and trace, Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) have been a vital and specialised resource.

Recognising the importance of the profession, the Prime Minister announced in September the Government’s commitment to creating a new regitser of EHPs to support local authorities. 

Fulfilling this pledge, the Environmental Health Together register was officially launched and accepting candidates from 30 October, enabling local authorities in England to access the help they need to combat the pandemic.

Environmental Health Together is hosted by the LGA, professionally quality-assured by CIEH, and backed by MHCLG and NHS Test and Trace. Aimed at anyone who has environmental health qualifications and is available for work, the register provides a resource for local authorities to match EHPs against their specific requirements for additional capacity to tackle COVID-19 in their areas.

While currently only local authorities in England will be able to recruit from it, it is anticipated that many roles will be based remotely, allowing registrations from across the UK. 

  • The registration process requires applicants to upload their CVs along with details of professional qualifications
  • They can indicate working preferences, including part-time or full-time, in-person or remotely, and in a remunerated or voluntary capacity
  • Among those who can apply are those public or private sector consultants on furlough, recent retirees looking to give back to their communities, and new graduates in need of work and valuable experience
  • Only local authorities in England will be able to access the register to protect candidates’ data

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP said:  

“We are grateful for the tremendous efforts of our environmental health professionals in keeping our communities safe during the pandemic. 

That’s why we are backing Environmental Health Together, an official register of professionals which councils can draw upon to meet their specific local needs. 

This will better utilise the valuable skills of our environmental health professionals, while giving local areas access to the knowledge and resources they need to protect their communities.”

Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection Baroness Dido Harding said:   

“Through local contact tracing and managing outbreaks, Local Authorities are playing a critical role in NHS Test and Trace. Expert local knowledge has been vital in reaching different communities and identifying potential outbreaks.

NHS Test and Trace is a partnership between national and local government, and Environmental Health Practitioners will be a hugely valuable resource in our fight to stop the spread of this virus and protect lives.”

Debbie Wood, Executive Director for Membership and External Affairs at CIEH, said:

"We are delighted that the Government has recognised the vital and unique role of Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) in tackling COVID-19 and in keeping the public safe.

Our members have been heavily involved in supporting government efforts throughout the pandemic, and the Prime Minister’s commitment reflects the asset that the environmental health profession is to central and local government.

We have been working closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) and the NHS Test and Trace on proposals for this register for several months, recognising the significant challenges that the local government sector face in responding to the pandemic.

Environmental Health Together is a very positive step forward and will be an invaluable resource going forwards.”

Cllr Richard Watts, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said:

“We are pleased to be supporting Environmental Health Together. The register will assist our member councils to tap into available resources as they continue to work tirelessly to tackle the pandemic. 

With COVID-19 having highlighted the lack of resilience in key services as a result of significant funding pressures, there is also an urgent need to look at ways to strengthen environmental health and other services in the longer term. We urge the Government to use the Spending Review to ensure councils have the resources they need to provide these vital services.” 

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