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Faculty guidance

Joint guidance on the appointment of directors of public health and consultants in public health in England has been produced in partnership by the Faculty of Public Health (FPH), Public Health England, the Local Government Association and the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.

These two documents provide detailed advice and good practice on the process for the appointment of senior public health consultants and recognises that the external professional assessment and advice provided by FPH is a central component of appointments. The system historically in place for appointing directors of public health and consultants in public health (the AAC – Advisory Appointment Committee) is the most efficient way of assuring the necessary technical and professional skills and ensuring that all appointments are fit for purpose.

This guidance is intended to help employers, Faculty Assessors and Faculty Advisers in the appointment process for senior public health posts at consultant or equivalent level (including Director of Public Health posts) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Though the guidance documents are produced in England, their practicalities are applicable in other constituent countries too.

The appointments procedure in Scotland differs in detail from that used elsewhere in the UK but the specimen job descriptions and person specifications may be adapted for use in Scotland as the same standards for public health practice apply throughout the UK.

Please note: the appointment of NHS consultants in the UK is regulated by statute and this guidance should be read in conjunction with with the Department of Health’s Good Practice Guidance (GPG), January 2005, and the relevant Statutory Instrument:

Number of FPH Assessors required for AACs

FPH revised its guidance in 2012 in regards to the number of external FPH assessors required to sit on an AAC panel. As posts in public health attract candidates from both medical and non-medical backgrounds, in order to better represent the interests of the FPH membership, FPH in the past advocated assessors from both backgrounds attending AACs. Added to this was the belief that medical assessors were not always used to or had a good understanding of the multidisciplinary workforce. With the recent changes to the public health system and the fact that public health specialists are now used to working in multidisciplinary environments, it was timely to review our requirement that two assessors attend an AAC.

The FPH Board therefore agreed that there should be a change in the guidance to be permissive of a single assessor at an AAC panel:

  • That the guidance for AAC panels be amended to reflect that one external FPH assessor is acceptable, though FPH continue to recommend that there should be assessors from both a medical and multidisciplinary background
  • That, should only one assessor be present at an AAC, they may be from either a medical or multidisciplinary background. In accordance with NHS regulations, however, if it is a NHS appointment or medical-only appointment (NHS or HPA/PHE on medical consultant terms & conditions) then the assessor has to be medical to meet DH requirements for an AAC.  The change in the guidance in this respect is permissive of a single assessor, but that must be a medical assessor
  • That for medical appointments within the NHS the assessor must come from a medical background.

Five key steps to being a good AAC assessor

  • Keep in touch with the Faculty - this means checking you have been properly appointed to each Advisory Appointments Committee, asking any questions you have, and providing feedback (quickly!) via the assessors report form [word 295KB].
  • Read the Faculty's guidance for assessors [word 459KB] – and make sure you are clear about your role.
  • Make sure you see all applications - assessors must see all applications and be involved in the entire process, including short-listing, interview, any presentations, etc.
  • Ask questions - and ask them as soon as possible. If you have doubts/queries/concerns about an applicant or their qualifications, it is much, much easier to clarify at short-listing stage than on the day of the interview
  • Be assertive - you are there as part of a robust and stringent selection process and are representing and protecting the profession. If you have concerns, make them known!

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