Dr Peter Brambleby is an independent public health consultant with 31 years’ experience in the National Health Service including 10 years as Director of Public Health (DPH) in three different Primary Care Trusts, and several years’ further experience as interim DPH in five local authorities.
He left the NHS in 2012 and purchased Whitewoods (also known as Fishpond Wood) to pursue wider interests in creative writing, arts and sustainable woodland development. This is developing into a “social prescribing model” for human health and wellbeing. It can be seen as a “Natural Health Service”.
He keeps up to date in public health through teaching, training and consultancy, sometimes in troubled departments needing experienced hands.
Peter spent the first 15 years of his childhood in India, where he developed a life-long interest in public health, as well as the outdoors. After qualifying in Medicine at London’s Royal Free Hospital in 1980, he gained clinical experience in child health, mostly neonatal intensive care in teaching hospitals. He holds a Diploma in Child Health from the Royal College of Physicians of London and Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. He moved into prevention and population medicine in 1986, becoming a Member, then Fellow, of the Faculty of Public Health in 1995.
He is author of the economic appraisal chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Public Health Practice. He was on the NICE working party that produced guidance on how to conduct “needs assessments” for the NHS and was a frequent contributor to the Health Service Journal.
One of his main interests has been health economics – relating investment in health to its outcomes, and looking at variations between areas. He was an active member of the Department of Health’s programme budgeting project board where he helped to develop and roll out the approach, and the related “spend and outcome tool” and “Right Care” initiative. He has lectured widely on these topics, including overseas.
Peter’s experience as an NHS Director of Public Health was in, respectively, Norwich, North Yorkshire & York, and the London Borough of Croydon. The last two of these were joint appointments spanning the local authority and NHS. When the Department of Health was strengthening the commissioning function under the “World Class Commissioning” initiative, Peter helped to draft the values and competencies documents. In 2010 he gave evidence to the Parliamentary Health Select Committee’s inquiry and report into commissioning in the NHS, arguing for greater emphasis on prevention and greater involvement of GPs and local authorities in commissioning for health and well-being (and not simply for health care services), and these aspirations have since been realised. In that same year, his team was one of nine chosen as exemplars of the new Health and Wellbeing Boards.
He has campaigned for greater transparency in the NHS, including the duty to raise concerns about safety, value for money and financial probity. He has served on boards of charities such as Community Music East and Norfolk Common Purpose.
As an independent public health practitioner, he works with a number of clients, challenging and supporting them on the opportunities created by public sector reforms. From June to November in 2013 he was interim DPH for the “Triborough” of Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith & Fulham (covering 10% of London). From June 2014 to April 2015 he was interim DPH for Gloucestershire County Council. From October 2015 to March 2016 he served as interim DPH for West Sussex, assisting a successful restructuring. From May 2018 to January 2019 he was interim DPH for Hartlepool, helping them conduct a full review of drugs and alcohol services, write an annual report and strengthen the team. His latest assignment was interim DPH for Salford City Council and CCG, with a major push towards prevention, social prescribing and addressing the determinants of inequality.
Peter acquired the woodland in December 2012 and founded Whitewoods Wellbeing in October 2020. The woodland project is gaining momentum and building links with local people, county council outdoor centre, Nidderdale Office of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and volunteers. In addition to creating wildlife habitat the woodland provides opportunities for education, skills and therapeutic outdoor activities in one of the most attractive parts of the country.
Peter is married to Michelle, who has a background in teaching, including children with special needs, and on-line counselling. Her profile can be read alongside this one. Peter and Michelle regard Whitewoods Wellbeing as a “Natural Health Service” and a necessary complement to the more formal caring and curative services.
Peter is fully up to date with requirements of the Faculty of Public Health for annual continuing professional development and peer appraisal, holds a DBS certificate and revalidation with the General Medical Council until June 2026.