Faculty Assessors

Our Faculty Assessors impart the external professional assessment and advice that provides the assurance that DsPH, as well as their public health consultant colleagues, have the necessary technical and professional skills required to promote, improve and protect health and provide high level, credible, peer-to-peer advice to the NHS about public health in relation to health services.

Faculty Assessor training - 5 July 2021 (2-4pm)

FPH is offering training for existing and prospective Faculty Assessors sitting on Advisory Appointment Committees (AACs). Faculty Assessors have a crucial role in maintaining professional standards in public health; they are all experienced public health specialists and are trained for the role. With the increase in public health recruitment as part of the pandemic, we need more members to take on this vital role. We are holding a Faculty Assessor training session on Monday 5 July 2021 between 2.00pm and 4.00pm.

The training will be held online (via Zoom) and will be aimed at new assessors and existing assessors who want a ‘refresher’ day. The training will be delivered by the Faculty Registrar, Giri Rajaratnam, alongside the Faculty’s Director of Education, Standards and Advocacy and other Faculty staff. If you are interested in attending the training, please email aac@fph.org.uk for more information. 

FPH Guidance for Faculty Assessors

Assessors report form

To be a Faculty Assessor able to represent the Faculty and sit on Advisory Appointment Committee (AAC) panels, you must: 

  • Be a Fellow, Member, or Honorary Member of the Faculty ‘in good standing’, including meeting the Faculty’s minimum CPD standards;

  • Have full specialist registration via the GMC, the GDC or the UKPHR;

  • Have been working for a minimum of five years in public health posts and currently to be either working in an NHS/government/public health post (or honorary NHS public health post) as a consultant, or as a consultant in a related specialty (e.g. CCDC, CHP, consultant epidemiologist, etc.) in the UK, or be retired for less than two years;

  • Have been trained in fair and non-discriminatory interviewing and selection techniques; and 

  • Have received appropriate training in the application of equal opportunities legislation to appointment procedures.

FPH will provide full training on the role and existing Faculty Assessors are also welcome to attend 'refresher training' when training events are held. Please contact the AAC helpdesk for details of the next training day.

  • Keep in touch with the Faculty: this means checking you have been properly appointed to each AAC, providing a list of candidates shortlisted for interview to the Faculty team before the panel and providing quick feedback via the assessor's report form after the panel has finished.
  • Read the Faculty's guidance for assessors: 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, interviewing and any presentations on the day.
  • Ask questions and ask them as soon as possible. If you have any doubts, queries or concerns about an applicant or their qualifications, it is far 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.

Before the AAC:

Check for every AAC that the post is not in your 'home' region and that the job description has been approved by FPH.

Read the FPH guidance before you accept any AAC so you know what parts of the process you must do.

Keep the Faculty's AAC team informed throughout the process, especially if you have any questions or concerns.

Ensure you are up-to-date with Equality & Diversity training – this is often arranged by your employer.

Ensure that the employer has sent you a list of panel members and that the AAC looks appropriately composed. For DPH posts, a regional/centre director from PHE must be included on the panel before it can go ahead. If you have any concerns then please raise them with the employer HR team and FPH as soon as possible.

Check what paperwork the appointing authorities’ HR processes insist on - a few still have nothing, most have scoring systems for the interviews, as well as the standard NHS application system short-listing process.

Remember that participation in the short-listing is essential – lots of areas try to get around this, or assume the appointing DPH can do this on his/her own.

Check the interview format with the employer before attending - most interviews include at least a presentation element, in addition to the standard question and answer sessions, and you should be prepared for both.

On the day:

Don’t dominate the questioning – AACs are important recruitment milestones and the local committee members will need to feel they are leading the process.

Don’t be afraid to ask the more straightforward questions about CCT, CPD and good professional standing and leave space for other committee members to ask the more complicated ones.

Don’t be surprised if the chair turns to you first at the end of the AAC to ask for your views on the candidates as a way into the open discussion.

Don’t feel you have to declare your opinion of who you consider above or below the line at this stage, but it does allow the local committee members to come in behind you with a bit more ease.

Remember that the Assessors’ function on the panel is to sift out those candidates who are below the line, allowing the committee to make a decision on those considered above the line.

Don’t feel pressured to rank those candidates considered above the line – that is not the function of an FPH Assessor on an AAC. If pressed, any views offered should be given as a panel member, rather than as an FPH Assessor. Ideally, it should ultimately be a local decision. However, do remember that the FPH Assessor is obliged to remind the panel of equal opportunity requirements if s/he thinks the panel may be discriminating unfairly.

After the AAC:

Offer the chair feedback on the process and offer to feedback to candidates. If you are the named person for feeding back to candidates, it is best that this feedback is agreed with the rest of the panel for each candidate.

Ask the lead HR person on the AAC if they can let you know the final outcome - in that way you can let the FPH AAC team know.

Ensure that you ask for an expenses claim form immediately after the AAC, and that you claim any travel/subsistence expenses due to you promptly thereafter. It is the responsibility of the recruiting organisation to pay these expenses, and our Employers Guidance and all relevant email communications explicitly state that Assessors are supplied on that understanding. Don’t expect to receive more than public transport rate per mile, or Standard Class rail travel.

Remember that while Assessors on old consultant contracts are eligible for a BMA sessional payment for attending an AAC, consultants who have identified attending AACs as one of their programmed activities, or those on new consultant contracts are not eligible for these payments.

Return a completed FPH Assessors Report Form to the FPH AAC team within five working days.

The questions below are suggestions of what might be asked by the Faculty Assessor - you should always agree in advance with the chair and the other panellists who is asking which questions of the candidates.

1. What has led you into being interested in applying for this post?

2. Can you briefly summarise what skills or qualities you have that would help you, as a CPH/DPH/CCDC/CiHP, to address the key issues in XX today?

3. Can you confirm your registration and how you keep your CPD up to date? Follow up question – thinking about something you recently claimed for your CPD, what did you learn?

4. For CCDC/CiHP posts - The team covers XX Local Authorities. What are your priorities for making an impact as a CCDC/CiHP in working with Local Authorities in XX?

5. Can you give us a successful example of a time when you managed to influence an external stakeholder to do something they were doubtful about? What approaches did you adopt to influence this? (Prompt if need be e.g. did you have to adapt/modify your approach, who else did you influence etc.).What would you have done if the stakeholder hadn’t responded in the way you anticipated?

6. Can you give an example of a committee/team that you chaired and what it achieved?
Can you give an example whereby strategic actions were implemented?
How did your chairing skills lead to improved outcomes?

7. For CCDC/CiHP posts - In the light of current changes in the NHS how would you see the HPT in working with NHSE and DPHs ?

8. For CCDC/CiHP posts - What are the current weaknesses in providing an effective response to measles cases? (Can be any other case)

9. For CCDC/CiHP posts - You are told about a confirmed E coli 0157 case in a child who attends nursery. What would you do? Then a follow up question – would you change your plan if there were two confirmed cases in the same nursery?

10. Can you give an example where your skills contributed to better team working?

11. Can you describe something in your recent work or person in your organisation that has been difficult and what steps you took to address the difficulties?

12. For CCDC/CiHP posts - What do you think are the main Non Infectious Environmental hazards likely to affect a HPT like XXX?

13. Could you describe an article or a piece of research you have read recently which has influenced your practice?

14. What would other people say your strengths and weaknesses are? How do you minimise the impact on work of your weaknesses?

Can short AAC lead times be influenced by FPH?

Our current Employers Guidance (a link to which is included each time an FPH Assessor List is sent) advises employers to allow at least 9 weeks for the process. This includes a minimum of 3 weeks for the Regional Faculty Adviser to approve the literature, and a further minimum of 6 weeks to identify assessors. Unfortunately with Councils/PHE/Universities HR Departments having an often high staff turnover the knowledge that this exists is very seldom passed on. However, this advice is also included in our standard email that accompanies each assessor list. It is usually best to avoid half-term, summer, Easter and winter school holidays.

What is FPH policy on Assessors sitting on AACs in their own region?

The Department of Health Good Practice Guidance states that assessors should normally be from a different NHS region, or at least geographically distant from the recruiting Council, University or Public Health England centre. This is usually to avoid any potential conflict of interest and the FPH assessor knowing the candidate being interviewed.

Why are DPHs not always used for DPH panels?

The usual practice from FPH is to send a full list of DPHs for panels from a neighbouring region to the Employer. However, in some cases after a number of lists have been used the Employer has not always managed to secure a DPH FPH assessor it is sometimes necessary to issue a CPH list to ensure that the employer stands a good chance of securing an assessor.

Can I get paid for sitting on a panel?

Where an assessor has been asked to sit on an AAC panel, FPH strongly recommend that where possible this time is accounted for in programmed activities. Where an asessor is not in work or retired, payment guidance is set out by the BMA as below:

Consultants (hospital and public health) attending from outside the region (college or faculty nominees)
Per day - £130.49
Per half day: £65.25

Any fee (if applicable) would always be paid by the recruiting organisation and this should be agreed before agreeing to attend a panel. Expenses and accommodation if overnight should be paid if required but most assessors will do this in work time (and we hope/expect will continue to do so).

Which FPH assessor sits on which panel?

As much as we can we try and match up the post with the panel required, for instance

  • Director of Public Health - DPH FPH Assessor ( usually based at a Council from a different region where the post is based)
  • Consultant in Public Health/Medicine - Consultant FPH Assessor (usually based at a Council or in PHE from a different region where the post is based)
  • Consultant in Health Protection - Consultant Health Protection FPH Assessor (PHE from a different region to where the post is based)
  • Consultant in Communicable Disease - Consultant in Communicable Disease FPH Assessor (PHE from a different region to where the post is based) 

Please can you advise whether it is necessary for a representative from Public Health England to be involved in the DPH recruitment process (to shortlist the applications and sit on the AAC panel)?

As set out in statutory guidance, it is necessary for a representative from Public Health England to be involved in the DPH recruitment process. You can find the referenced guidance here (hyperlink to: https://www.fph.org.uk/professional-development/public-health-appointments/employers/ )

There are a number of specific features of the appointment process for DsPH, which include:

  • PHE, on behalf of the Secretary of State, being involved in all stages of the recruitment and appointment process
  • Designing the job role to provide specialist public health leadership and an appropriate span of responsibility to deliver health protection, health improvement and advice on health services and ensure that the impact on health is considered in the development and implementation of all policies and, the production of a job description that reflects this role. The professional elements of the job description will need to be complemented by others that reflect the generic responsibilities of senior managers of the authority, and that there may be other specific responsibilities, drawn from existing local government functions. (The Faculty of Public Health can provide essential advice on the draft job description, draft advert and person specification and it is recommended that local authorities contact them at an early stage to benefit from this and its template job description)
  • Sharing the local job description with the Public Health England (PHE) regional director, who will act on behalf of the Secretary of State, to provide assurance that it covers all necessary areas of professional and technical competence in compliance with the Act. (Guidance for local government when considering appointing a DPH to lead across more than one local authority area is provided in Appendix B)
  • Managing the recruitment and selection process, including organising an advisory appointments committee in line with the joint guidance from the Faculty of Public Health, Local Government Association and PHE, which provides a robust, tried and tested method for providing assurance of technical and professional skills of DsPH

Panel Composition for Director of Public Health

It is customary for an advisory appointments committee for a chair to be a lay member such as a local authority elected member, for example a cabinet member of the health and wellbeing board. The advisory appointments committee should also include:

1. The Chief Executive of the Local Authority or his/her nominated deputy
2. The Public Health England regional director, or another senior professionally qualified member of Public Health England acting on his or her behalf
3. An external professional assessor appointed after consultation with the Faculty of Public Health
4. Senior NHS representation

In addition to the five core members the employing organisation may appoint such additional members as it considers appropriate but the majority of the committee consists of employees of the employing organisation and professional members.

Can requests for assessors come directly from the FPH rather than from the employer?

Unfortunately, FPH does not currently have the resources for this. At the moment, one full time member of staff handles the administration of between 150-250 AACs annually, as well as other duties in the Professional Standards department. Sourcing assessors, arranging their travel, accommodation and expenses on behalf of the recruiting employer would require at least another one full time member of staff.

Only in exceptional circumstances, will FPH send a direct request out to assessors.

Can new assessors’ job share on an AAC with an established one?

Employers are unlikely to accommodate expenses for a second assessor to sit on an AAC, and the medical/local majority of an AAC panel may be unbalanced by adding another panel member. However, opportunities could be explored to observe at AACs at your own organisation, subject to agreement by the CEO, DPH and candidates.

What types of question should the FPH Assessor ask at AAC?

The FPH Assessor will always check the following with the candidate:

  • Training and qualifications in public health and any additional domain specific training (e.g. 6 month health protection training for CCDC posts);
  • GMC Specialist Register or UKPHR status;
  • CPD arrangements and record.

The FPH Assessor will usually also ask other questions to help the AAC determine the professional suitability of the candidate for the specific post.

These questions will usually be agreed and split between panel members before the interview and will vary according to the type of post. The exact questions asked by the FPH Assessor personally will depend upon the experience and knowledge that other panel members have. In general the FPH Assessor will ask questions relating to the essential technical aspects of the knowledge and experience sections of the Person Specification.

For a DPH post, the areas that could be covered by the FPH Assessor include:

Commitment to adding public health values to corporate agendas
Strong commitment to public health principles
High level of understanding of epidemiology and statistics, public health practice, health promotion, health economics and health care evaluation
Full understanding of and commitment to addressing relationships and cultures of organisations that impact on the wider determinants of health
Full understanding of and commitment to delivery of improved health through mainstream NHS activities
Understanding of NHS and local government cultures, structures and policies
Knowledge of methods of developing clinical quality assurance, quality improvement and evidence based clinical and/or public health practice
Understanding of social and political environment
Understanding of interfaces between health and social care

For a Consultant in PH post, the areas that could be covered by the FPH Assessor include:

  • Strong commitment to public health principles
  • High level of understanding of epidemiology and statistics, public health practice, health promotion, health economics and health care evaluation.
  • Understanding of NHS
  • Knowledge of methods of developing clinical quality assurance, quality improvement and evidence based clinical and/or public health practice
  • Understanding of social and political environment Understanding of local authorities and social services
  • Ability to design, develop, interpret and implement policies

For a CCDC post, the areas that could be covered by the FPH Assessor, particularly if the only HP Specialist on the panel, include:

  • Experience of communicable disease control in a wide variety of settings including out of hours on call
  • Experience and demonstrable competency in dealing with environmental hazards/chemical incidents
  • Experience of emergency planning
  • Ability to undertake prophylaxis, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases of public health importance
  • Understanding of epidemiology and statistics, public health practice, health promotion, health economics and health care evaluation.
  • Understanding of key agencies involved in health protection
  • Knowledge of methods of developing clinical quality assurance, quality improvement and evidence based clinical and/or public health practice
  • Familiarity with the symptoms, signs, investigations and treatments used in the diagnosis and management of health protection problems.

Is there guidance needed on giving feedback to candidates?

In advance of an AAC, the Chair should agree with all panel members what advice should be offered to unsuccessful applicants and which panel member should provide it. It is an important part of the FPH Assessor’s role to provide advice to unsuccessful applicants after an AAC if asked to do so. The FPH recommends that if any feedback is provided orally. Assessors should follow this up in writing to the candidate, with a copy to the AAC Chair.

What is ‘above and below the line’?

A candidate can be considered above the line if they fulfil all the essential criteria of the person specification as supplied by the employer.

What is the Assessor’s responsibility on a panel?

It is the Assessor’s responsibility to ensure that an applicant’s qualifications, training and experience are appropriate for the post, taking into account that posts may vary in content. Assessors should pay particular attention to applicants not yet on the GMC Specialist Register/GDC Specialist List in dental public health/UKPHR especially if they are not in a recognised public health training scheme. Your assessment of the professional suitability of applicants will assist other members of the AAC to reach a decision. No member of an AAC has the right to veto an appointment. However, If you are not satisfied that the preferred applicant is properly trained for the post, you should state your concerns to AAC chair at the earliest opportunity and then confirm your views to the chair of the employing organization immediately in writing so that appropriate action can be taken before the appointment has been confirmed.

Can FPH organise Diversity and Equal Opportunities Training for Assessors?

This training should normally form part of your continuing professional development programme and you should liaise with your employer to set up appropriate opportunities. Your training must cover all aspects of appointments and concentrate on those areas where difficulties can arise, including equal opportunities and matters which should not be discussed at interview. You should also familiarise yourself with the employer’s equal opportunities policy prior to the interview.

Can FPH set up a quota system for assessors to keep track of AAC attended?

The database currently used by FPH staff has the ability to search for the number of AACs each Assessor has attended and this information is available on request. However, as with all databases, it is only as accurate as the data fed in, and so therefore it is imperative that our Assessors inform the FPH Office every time they accept an invitation to sit on an AAC.

When should I contact the FPH?

  • Once you have accepted an invitation to sit on an AAC
  • If you have any questions regarding the procedure before/on/after the AAC
  • To submit a Faculty Assessor feedback report within 5 working days of the AAC

Contact details: aac@fph.org.uk