Thu Jul 2024

Public Health Spotlight Episode 1 – Birmingham City Council

Welcome to the opening episode of “Public Health Spotlight” a podcast series by Panoramic Associates in collaboration with the Association of the Directors of Public Health dedicated to shedding light on the critical work achieved by public health professionals.

In our first episode, Maisie Hockings, Lead Practice Director at Panoramic Associates, sits down with Dr Justin Varney, the Director of Public Health at Birmingham City Council, to explore his journey, insights, and the impactful work he does in Birmingham.



Please read on for a preview of this first episode and what you can expect to learn.


Meet Dr. Justin Varney

Dr. Justin Varney has an extensive background in public health, having started his career training in London. Over the years, he has held various roles across primary care groups, the London Health Protection Agency, and Barking and Dagenham, before taking on national responsibilities at Public Health England. In February 2019, he brought his wealth of experience to Birmingham, where he now serves as the Director of Public Health.

A Preview into his Role

In his role, Dr. Varney is tasked with the monumental responsibility of protecting and improving the health of Birmingham’s 1.2 million citizens. This involves everything from conducting joint strategic needs assessments and producing DPH reports to commissioning health services. Managing a substantial budget of £100 million from the public health grant, he emphasises the importance of collaboration with various stakeholders, including the NHS, community groups, and the voluntary sector.

Proud Achievements and Ongoing Challenges

One of Dr. Varney’s proudest achievements so far is the growth and diversity of his team at the council. He highlights the creation of community health profiles that address the specific health challenges faced by Birmingham’s diverse ethnic communities. However, he also discusses the challenges of the role, particularly the need to maintain personal resilience amidst a demanding workload. Dr. Varney shares valuable advice on self-care, diary management, and the importance of administrative support.

For those aspiring to follow in his footsteps, Dr. Varney offers insightful advice. He stresses the importance of research, understanding the local community, and demonstrating a commitment to equality and diversity. Additionally, he highlights the need for exposure to political processes and media training to effectively handle public communication.

Dr. Varney’s passion for public health is evident throughout the interview. He encourages aspiring public health professionals to pursue the role of Director of Public Health, highlighting the profound impact it can have on people’s lives.

Join us for this informative conversation with Dr. Justin Varney, as we kick off our “Public Health Spotlight” series. Click the link blow to listen and watch or find on your preferred platform. Stay tuned for more episodes featuring dedicated public health professionals who are making a difference in their communities.

Listen on Apple Podcasts


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