In praise of… research EHPs Pete Hill and Eamonn Toner

I was going to start this post with something like ‘being a researcher can be a lonely business at times’, but I will start again now teaching has finished and the marking is piled high… Trying to be an environmental health researcher can be a lonely business at times, but recently establishing contact with two passionate environmental health professionals has made our efforts to build networks with like-minded and research interested people seem even more worthwhile.

First, Pete Hill of Jigsaw PSHP established contact via one of Caroline’s Tweets and it was a pleasure to compare notes with him a few months ago at Middlesex. To our knowledge Pete is one of the first EHPs not attached to a University to get around the problems of access to peer-reviewed journals by successfully applying to his county’s National Health Service (NHS) Athens database administrator. We understand that other EHPs have since been successful and we hope to write more about this shortly as the system has probably changed since the April re-structuring of the NHS in England. Pete explained that Athens access was particularly useful for constructing bids for Health and Wellbeing Boards and in helping to build arguments to overcome the ‘you’re an EHP, prove your worth’ issue.

Pete’s website (http://jigsawpsph.weebly.com/index.html) is also a mine of useful information, but his embrace of social media is particularly impressive and I recommend his environmental health podcasts (http://jigsawpsph.podomatic.com/) and presentations (http://jigsawpsph.weebly.com/multimedia.html) to all. Following in Pete’s footsteps, when all the marking is done and I can return to research world we hope to start developing some EHRNet podcasts in a similar vein.

Second, Eamonn Toner of Northern Group Systems (Environmental Health) in Northern Ireland established contact via Tina Garrity of the invaluable CIEH library (http://www.cieh.org/policy/library.html) in London. A wonderful conversation developed about our shared research interests and we wish Eamonn well in delivering his training day tomorrow entitled: ‘Preparing articles and Papers for publication and meeting CPD requirements.’ Until making contact I was unaware of Eamonn’s pioneering work on how EHPs communicate with ethnic minority businesses. This excellent research example can be downloaded for free via: http://www.cieh.org/the_art_of_communication.html and powerfully illustrates the importance of research to inform policy and practice. Eamonn is now working on converting his report into a research paper, but other outcomes of his work include much closer working relationships with ethnic community support structures and a body language training course for EHPs.

We also encourage readers to visit the CIEH Northern Ireland website (http://www.cieh-nireland.org) for examples of good research practice, including an emerging database of University of Ulster student dissertations (http://www.cieh-nireland.org/professional_development/dissertations.html) and a fascinating report on public perceptions to wind turbines (http://www.cieh-nireland.org/assets/0/72/130/234/264/2c5b43d7-6149-4bb0-a0d7-83609c88bab1.pdf).     

Lastly, I apologise to Pete and Eamonn for the delay in singing their praises. We hope their work will be of interest to you all and demonstrates that, despite my periodic feelings of loneliness, a great deal of environmental health research work is going on already. Please spread the word and do get in touch if we can help to publicise your own research interests.

Many thanks and best wishes, Rob

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