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The BDA is launching a network of Public Health Champions across all NHS organisations in England in the first instance, and in the future, it may be extended to Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, in Wales there is a different scheme underway and so this BDA network will not be rolled out in Wales.

The aim of the network is to have at least one BDA Public Health Champion per NHS organization in England.

The Network will support BDA Public Health Champions by providing training and opportunities to share their ideas, information and experiences, ask for advice and shout about the excellent work they are doing in their Trusts.

So what is a BDA public health champion?

A Public Health Champion (PHC) is a qualified NHS dietitian of any band. They may be working in the acute, community or mental health sectors.

The PHC will help members of their dietetic team to adopt healthy conversations.

A 'healthy conversation' is one in which a person is encouraged to make healthier choices so as to achieve positive long term behaviour change. (Making Every Contact Count is about 'healthy conversations' and is already mandatory in some NHS Trusts.) 'Healthy conversations' can be about health issues such as:

  • Smoking cessation.
  • Alcohol problems.
  • Physical activity.
  • Mental health.
  • Healthy eating.
  • Obesity.
  • Falls prevention.
  • Social isolation / loneliness.
  • Substance misuse.
  • Environmental and housing issues.

Specifically, the PHCs will assist with:

  • overcoming the barriers to adopting healthy conversations in the individual workplaces
  • training dietetic staff.
  • collating information about local patients support groups and resources so that dietitians can signpost people to them.
  • auditing and evidencing the success of healthy conversations.
  • keeping up to date with research and policy e.g. NICE etc.
  • work with other AHP public health champions in the same workplace where they exist.

In the future it may be possible to extend the role of the PHC to include Work Ready! (the BDA programme that tackles nutrition and health in the work place) - watch this space for more news.

If you fancy becoming a Public Health Champion read on:

The benefits to you of becoming a public health champion

  • You will develop new skills and knowledge.
  • It is an easy way to develop your career and broaden your horizons.
  • You will expand your network of contacts in your NHS Trust.
  • It is an excellent way to demonstrate the value of dietitians to the wider organization as well as to patient care and the 'patient experience.'
  • Contributes to your Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for your HCPC registration.

If you are a dietetic team leader or manager read on:

The benefits to your dietetic team of having a public health champion

  • The team will be better able to take opportunities to have healthy conversations with people.
  • The team will be able to audit and evidence that it is having healthy conversations and provide this information to the NHS organisation.
  • The team will have up to date information on the local services that support people to make healthy changes to their lives.
  • The team will be seen as a forward thinking team by fellow healthcare professionals and senior managers in their NHS organisation.
  • The general public and patients will see dietitians as providing holistic care and advice.

The benefits to your NHS organization of having a BDA public health champion

  • The NHS organization will be able to demonstrate that it is promoting health and preventing ill health – one of its mandatory duties in England.

Convinced that you want to become a Public Health Champion then:

How do you sign up?

Below is step by step guide on how to sign up:

  • Discuss and agree your ambition to be a Public Health Champion for your team with your manager.
  • Register yourself with the Public Health Champion Register by emailing PHChampions@bda.uk.com and providing your name and contact details.
  • Join the AHP4PH Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AHP4PH/.
  • Agree what activities you want to do and when with your manager.
  • Regularly visit these webpages for updates and further information.

How will I be trained?

The BDA will hold two training and networking events in early 2017 to train public health champions. These events will be advertised in Members Monthly and on the BDA website. Spaces will be limited so keep a look out!

There are some free sources of training on how to 'Make Every Contact Count' (MECC) and having healthy motivational conversations in the pages below.

In November there will be a new introductory online module on Public Health posted on the BDA Learning Zone. It is recommended that all PHCs undertake this module.

How will I be supported?

BDA CED Learning Zone

The BDA Learning Zone contains a selection of free online learning and similar resources to support your work as a Public Health Champion. It also signposts you to other free training.

AHP4PH Facebook page

This is a very active Facebook page for healthcare professionals from all of the Allied Healthcare Professions. It can be accessed here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AHPs4PH/.