Jim McManus: Director of Public Health for Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire County Council

When did you start in public health?

2005.

Why did you choose to work in public health?

I wanted to be able to improve the health of populations and make health systems work better.

Describe what you do in 100 words

My job falls into several chunks.  One is commissioning key services like sexual health, school nursing, health visiting, weight management and smoking cessation. Another is providing information, intelligence, advice and evidence to other commissioners to help them meet health needs. A third is working across partners to deliver projects like checks to keep people safe in their own homes, another is making sure we protect against hazards to health like contaminated land and air quality and a fourth chunk is long term stuff like helping plan healthy communities. No two days are ever the same.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The variety – and being able to work with many different people to see things happen for individuals and for whole communities.

If you could give the NHS any 70th birthday present what would it be?

A long term systems approach focused on prevention, care quality and outcomes for people.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about working in public health?

Do it. Find a public health team willing to give you an exploratory placement. Take a long view – you’ll need it. And have a game plan of what is important to do because otherwise you will have more work than you can ever handle.