Public health back in top tier local government for 9 years (in England only)

From April 2013 public health teams returned to top tier local government (after almost 40 years). With them they bring an array of skills and resources to enhance public policy delivery. BUT understanding the public health-related structures such as Health and Well-being Boards, Joint Strategic Needs Assessment, and Public Health Outcomes Frameworks and that they add a new lexicon of language creates challenges. Yet better understanding of such tools is necessary (although alone clearly insufficient) in order to maximise the potential for successful connections and collaborations across the professions engaged in transport planning and public health. (see Health and Wellbeing | URBAN TRANSPORT GROUP for information on changes)

For Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland the Health structures are different to England e.g. Health Boards in Scotland means that Public Health remains in the NHS with the pros and cons that then means for effective collaboration… Note that Public Health Scotland commenced operations in April 2020. Wales also retains Health Boards.

Making the connections – combining the science on health impacts and the art of inter-sectoral collaboration

“It is only if public health practitioners can influence or deploy the resources of those in other sectors that truly effective activities can be developed (Steensberg, 1997)

“by collaboration we mean: the pooling of appreciations or tangible resources… by two or more stake holders, to solve a set of problems which neither can solve individually.” (Grey, 1985)

“sectors are often characterised by specialist discourses of knowledge and expertise in seeking their legitimation and maintenance” (Dageling,  1995)

In this endeavour, the launching of the Journal of Transport and Health in 2014 was a milestone in the on-going effort to bring the transportation and health fields together to address critical societal issues, but it was not the culmination of this effort.  To achieve further progress toward reducing the harms caused by the transport system while simultaneously ensuring that the system benefits society to the maximum extent possible, a truly intersectoral approach that engages these and other relevant sectors is needed.  A truly intersectoral approach, in turn, must rest on a solid foundation of interdisciplinary collaboration and research.

Past training for transport professionals and public health professionals in seeking effective collaboration includes officers from:

Norfolk County Council; Leicestershire County Council; London Borough of Hackney, Tri-London Borough Partnership; Portsmouth City Council, Sustrans; NeSTRANS (North East Scotland); other Scottish local roads departments; and various transport planning and engineering consultancies.

Please contact me to discuss facilitating training days for Transport Planners, Public Health staff, and both. From Introductory sessions to Masterclass.

Past training with Agenda example: Transport planning workshops across the South West


Adrian Davis has devoted much of his 30 plus years of work to developing a better understanding as to the importance of health within transport planning and the need for behaviour change away from motorised travel. This work has been punctuated by periods in academia in public health, and transport research departments. He has contributed to active travel guidance including for NICE, the BMA’s first road transport policy statement, publications for WHO, and Sustrans. He was embedded into Bristol City Council’s transport department, by NHS Bristol (p/t). Until April 2013 Adrian was England’s only transport and health specialist funded by a Primary Care Trust. From Sept 2012 he also worked for the Dept Transport for six months to help on the economic case for active travel. Since then he has worked for Public Health England providing transport planning support. In 2018 Adrian became the first Professor of Transport & Health, moving to Edinburgh Napier University.

Adrian provides training for both public health practitioners on transport planning, and for transport planning professionals about health and transport. Training can be tailored to time available – including half days and full day sessions.

Specific training in the use of the WHO Health Economic Assessment Tool is offered as a half day session. This may be of interest to a range of professionals and active travel advocates in understanding more how the economic case for active travel can be assessed.

Training in evidenced-base practice is offered as short courses which can be bespoke to organisations and professionals ranging from transport planners, traffic engineers, urban designers, to public health professionals.