Public health medicine committee overview

The PHMC (public health medicine committee) meets to discuss all matters affecting public health medicine and public health physicians in the UK.

Location: UK
Audience: Public health doctors
Updated: Monday 18 December 2023
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Our priorities

  • Defend pay and the terms and conditions of service of public health doctors.
  • Defend and promote public health as a medical specialty, but with a non-medical route of entry.
  • Reflect and encourage the diverse public health medical profession, aiming for gender balance on the committee and at conference.
  • Provide the public health perspective on the BMA‘s strategic policy priorities.


Current policy issues


In January 2023 the BMA’s Board of Science organised a webinar focusing on the links between gambling harm and suicide. Board member Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones OBE led the discussion. Prof Bowden-Jones is a consultant psychiatrist in addictions and is National Clinical Advisor on Gambling Harms.

The webinar is available to watch on the Board of Science webpage, under Podcasts and webinars. PHMC member Ellis Friedman spoke on the Public Health Medicine Conference resolution on gambling.

The lobbying by the Committee and the Board of Science has paid off with the UK Government publishing a White Paper on the issue in April 2023 and a consultation on the design of the proposed gambling operator levy in October 2023.

Public Health Specialists Manifesto

The PHMC will take forward the issues raised by the Survey of Public Health Doctors carried out in 2020-21, particularly those highlighted in the Public Health Specialists Manifesto endorsed by Conference in June 2022.


Our people

Chair: Penny Toff

Deputy chairs:
Heather Grimbaldeston (local government)
Tamasin Knight (policy and advocacy)
Deiniol Jones (workforce and regulation)


Associated committees

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Develop your skills as a committee member

Take part in one of our free courses designed to give you the right skills to:

  • break down equality and inclusion bias (CPD-accredited)
  • value difference and inclusivity
  • live our BMA behaviour principles.
Find out more

Welsh committee for public health medicine (WCPHM)

Read more about the Welsh committee for public health medicine (WCPHM)

Northern Ireland public health medicine committee (NIPHMC)

Read more about the Northern Ireland public health medicine committee (NIPHMC)

Public health medicine registrars subcommittee (PHMRS)

The chair for 2023-24 is Deiniol Jones. The deputy chair for 2023-24 is Ciaran Kennedy.

The members of PHMRS are currently chosen by the regional registrars committees at their ARM (usually between November and January). However, the subcommittee is hoping to move to UK-wide elections during the current session.

The subcommittee meets three times a year to discuss issues of relevance to public health trainees. The registrar members of the PHMRS may also attend meetings of the PHMC. 

Contact [email protected]

Public health medicine consultative committee (PHMCC)

It is a joint committee of the BMA’s public health medicine committee and the Faculty of Public Health. It is set up to contribute to the formulation of policy and to consider all matters of policy relating to public health medicine in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The Committee also has members and observers from the Association of Directors of Public Health, the BMA’s general practitioners committee, the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, the Royal College of Nursing and Unite. Contact [email protected]


Our meetings

The committee meets four times a year to discuss all matters affecting public health medicine and public health physicians. The Registrars Subcommittee meets immediately after each meeting of the committee to discuss matters of particular relevance to registrars.

Meetings are open to committee members only, but non-members can apply for the BMA committee visitors scheme.

Meeting dates:


  • Wednesday 11 October 2023
  • Tuesday 23 January 2024
  • Wednesday 10 April 2024
  • Monday 22 July 2024


  • Monday 4 December 2023
  • Monday 4 March 2024
  • Monday 17 June 2024

All meetings take place either virtually or at:

BMA House
Tavistock Square

For more information email [email protected]



2024 PHMC conference

The conference provides a great opportunity to network with other public health doctors and hear from expert speakers. The 2024 Conference will be held at BMA House and online on Monday 26 February. The overall theme for the Conference and the linked Sandy Macara Lecture is Public Health: Past, Present and Future.

The deadline for motions to the Conference is to be confirmed. Motions and any questions may be submitted via [email protected]


The 2023 Public Health Medicine conference was held on Wednesday 22 March 2023 from 10am to 4.30pm and was a hybrid event held online and at BMA House, London. 

2023 conference highlights

Professor Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and BMA President gave the morning keynote address on Poverty is terrible, but fear of poverty is almost as bad: an agenda for public health.

Afternoon keynote presentations from Maggie Rae, Head of School and Public Health Transformation, South West England; Allison Duggall, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Coventry City Council; and Sue Frossell, Consultant in Public Health, Coventry City Council on Accelerating reduction in health inequalities in the South West and Coventry.

A panel discussion on different perspectives on tackling 21st century poverty and the role of public health took place in the afternoon.  The speakers were David Bradley, Chief Executive, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust on the role of employers as living wage employers; Isobel Braithwaite, NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellow in Housing and Health, UCL Institute of Health Informatics who outlined the findings of her research; Ruth Brock, Chief Executive Officer, The Hygiene Bank on the impact of hygiene poverty; Heather Buckingham, Director of Policy, Research and Impact at the Trussell Trust on the growth of food poverty; and Sir Sam Everington, GP in Bromley by Bow Partnership, BMA Vice President and BMA UK Council member on the role of primary care.

The debate of motions submitted by representatives took place throughout the day.  Subjects included inconsistent pay and terms and conditions across the Public Health system, action to address health inequalities, the need for engagement in future system reorganisations, wellbeing of future generations legislation, universal basic income and Public Health funding.

A poster competition was also held on the theme of the conference. View some of the entries.

View a recording of the plenary sessions.

2022 conference highlights

Last year's conference on 8 June 2022 was a hybrid event held online and at BMA House, London. 

Morning keynote address by Professor Sir Andrew Haines, Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on ‘Global Health Challenges: Climate Change and the need for an inclusive and sustainable policy response’

Afternoon keynote presentation by Dr Maria van Hove, Academic Public Health Registrar in South West England and Dr Peter Davey, Public Health Registrar in North West England on ‘Global Health Challenges: Building Population Resilience Locally – the practical aspects of addressing climate change on the ground in healthcare settings, workplaces and as individuals.’

Panel discussion on ‘Building and supporting the Public Health workforce needed to respond to the challenges of climate change,’ including all the keynote speakers, colleagues from the PHMC and the Faculty of Public Health.

Motions debated included the health impacts of austerity and the housing crisis; the need for greater capacity and more investment in public health services; best practice in the response to COVID; public health training and regulation; the restructuring of public health services in Wales; gambling as well as climate change and the work of the Public Health Medicine Committee.

Conference also endorsed the Public Health Specialists Manifesto prepared by the Committee in response to the findings of the survey of public health doctors undertaken in 2020-21.

The 2022 Conference was provided with a report on the Actions taken on the resolutions of the 2021 conference.


Sandy Macara memorial lecture

Each year the conference agenda committee organises a memorial address or lecture in memory of Sir Sandy Macara. Sir Sandy was a leading public health figure who chaired the BMA’s Representative Body and then its Council from 1993-98. The lecture was established to remember ‘an absolutely extraordinary person’ and his commitment to public health.

The lecture has been given each year since (except during the COVID pandemic), sometimes as part of the annual public health medicine conference and at other times as a separate event. The most recent lecture was given at BMA House and online by Professor Virginia Berridge, Professor of Health History and Policy, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine on the subject of Public Health and Inequality: Insights from the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. 

View a recording of the 2023 Sandy Macara memorial lecture.

The 2022 lecture was given by by Professor Mary Black in Edinburgh on Wednesday 2 November 2022.

View a recording of the 2022 Sandy Macara memorial lecture.


How to join

There are many advantages to becoming involved in our committees. You can actively influence BMA policy-making and negotiations, represent your colleagues' voices and develop your leadership skills. 

Each committee has a few routes to becoming an elected member. In the case of the PHMC, these are: 

UK elections
  • Seats/term - every year, elections for 12 seats on PHMC take place for a one-session term, with at least one representative from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Timeline - elections are usually held in June/July every year.
  • Eligibility - all public health doctors in the UK who are BMA members are eligible to stand and vote in this election.
ARM elections
  • Seats/term - every year, elections for 3 seats on PHMC take place for a one-session term.
  • Timeline - the nomination period opens a month before ARM, and voting closes a few days after ARM.
  • Eligibility - all UK public health doctors who are BMA members can stand for election but only ARM delegates can vote.
Appointments from other bodies

The PHMC welcomes representatives from the British Dental Association’s dental public health committee.

The election section below is kept up to date with details about any running elections, so make sure you keep checking it throughout the year.  



Election to PHMC is closed.


Get in touch

If you are interested in finding out more about the work of the PHMC, please contact [email protected].


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