The Faculty of Community Health of the Society of Public Health

Part of:
Society of Medical Officers of Health
  • Archives and manuscripts

About this work


A Steering Committee was set up in Dec 1986 and the first meeting of the Shadow Board of the Faculty of Community Health was held in Dec 1988. Recruitment into the new Faculty was brisk and Foundation Membership closed in Sep 1989 with a total of 750 members. Thereafter, membership was by examination, the first being held in Mar 1991. Dr Peter A Gardner was the first President of the Faculty. Dr Margaret Grant took over in 1995.

The Faculty was set up to support Community Health doctors (many of whom were members of the Society), improve their training and promote academic excellence in the field of preventive medicine. The Society felt that this discipline and the work of Clinical Medical Officers (which included child/school health, audiology, family planning, women's' health, disability, mental illness, mental handicap and occupational health) was largely uncovered by the role of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine*. The aims and objectives of the Society's Faculty were to act as an authoritative body within the Society, promote Community Health as an independent discipline and establish it as a necessary and integral part of total health care systems, arrange examinations and training, establish standards of professional competence and practice, facilitate discussion and dispense information through the medical and health related professions.

Since Oct 1997, the Faculty has operated as a self-financing body within the merged Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene and Society of Public Health.

The deposited records of the Faculty are rather erratic. Researchers should also consult the Society's Council minutes, 1986-1997, and meeting papers for reports on the setting up of the Faculty and periodic reports on the Faculty's activities.

* The Faculty of Public Health Medicine:

In March 1972 the three Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom (i.e. Edinburgh, Glasgow and London) set up a Faculty of Community Medicine. It was entirely an academic body and separate to the Society. Efforts to form it had been started in 1969, following the formation of the Council for Postgraduate Medical Education and the increasing acceptance of the need for specialist training and registration in the field of Community Medicine. The Society, represented by its President Dr Wilfrid G Harding, took a leading part in negotiating with the Royal Colleges to establish the Faculty. Dr Harding was elected Chairman of the Provisional Council, which held its first meeting in Feb 1971. Admission to membership was by examination. The Faculty's objectives were to promote the advancement of education in the field of community medicine, high standards of professional competence and practice and to act as an authoritative body for the purpose of consultation in matters of education or public interest concerning community medicine. It's educational role in postgraduate training was complementary to that of the Society. It was renamed the Faculty of Public Health Medicine in Dec 1989.

Although the Society was instrumental in setting up the Faculty, and both organisations collaborated on training courses, there was some friction between them. This originated from the Faculty's refusal to allow clinical people in as foundation members or subsequently. Whilst disenfranchising some Society members, on the other hand the Society was faced with the possible loss of other members to the Faculty, at a time of change and uncertainty brought about by the forthcoming NHS reorganisation. These factors contributed the Society's decision to set up its own Faculty in 1988, which would include clinical members.



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