Health protection officers identify and manage potential health risks to the public.
Health protection officers investigate and take action on public health concerns, provide advice and information, and contribute to the management of sustainable environments. They enjoy a mixture of fieldwork, scientific report writing and being involved with the public.
They carry out a regulatory role on behalf of the Director-General of Health, and have the power to perform investigations sometimes leading to legal action.
Three main areas
- Communicable diseases
- Environmental health
- Food safety
- Check homes and advise families on taking action for lead poisoning
- Develop a food safety programme
- Monitor and remove exotic mosquitoes around seaports and airports
- Follow up a case of infectious disease to prevent it from spreading
- Investigate a chemical spill and provide advice to protect the public
Who employs health protection officers?
Health protection officers are part of public health teams of district health boards. Many take on a specialist role such as biosecurity, drinking water or smoke free environments, while retaining some general tasks.
Other roles include technical officers in public health units and environmental health officers in territorial local authorities.
In the future, a wider range of organisations may seek the sort of skills which health protection officers bring to public health and the professional scope of this work may grow.