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 - 14 December 2021

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 Tuesday 14 December 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

Assessor Feedback Form (PDF version)

Assessor Feedback Form (web version)

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:

  • Ensure for every AAC you agree to attend 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 – some recruitment staff may not be aware of this and assume the appointing DPH can do this on their own.
  • Check the interview format with the employer before attending - many 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.
  • Your primary focus must include 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 Assessor's 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 Assessor on a panel. 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.

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

The FPH Assessor has a key role in establishing the professional suitability of the candidate for the specific post. The precise questions asked by panel members may vary according to the post being offered and should be agreed with the panel chair in advance but a Faculty Assessor should always focus on: 

  • Candidates' 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, UKPHR or GDC status;
  • Whether a candidate is up to date with their CPD with the Faculty (and if CPD is undertaken via another body, which one?); what are they doing to keep their CPD up to date? 
  • Whether candidates are a member of FPH or another College or Faculty;
  • When they last had a professional appraisal;
  • When they are due to revalidate.

For a Director of Public Health 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 Public Health 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 the 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 they are the only health protection 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.

What is the Assessor’s responsibility on a panel?

It is a core responsibility of the Assessor to ensure that an applicant’s qualifications, training and experience are appropriate for the post, taking into account that posts will vary in content. There are suggested interview questions on this page, and Assessors should establish the professional good standing of the candidates. 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.

What is the lead-in time required for an AAC panel?

Our current Employers Guidance 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.

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

The Department of Health Good Practice Guidance states that assessors should 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.

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 Assessor 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 far as possible we try to provide Assessor lists to match the post, 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).

Is it essential 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)?

Yes. This is set in statutory guidance, the PHE Centre Director (or their chosen representative) must be fully involved in any recruitment to a DPH post. Joint guidance from the Faculty, PHE and the LGA is available here.

There are a number of specific features of the appointment process for Directors of Public Health, including:

  • Public Health England, 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;
  • Ensuring 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 FPH, PHE and LGA, 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 posts

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:

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

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

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

FPH does not the resources to match Assessor to panels and it is always the employer's responsibility to source an appropriate Faculty Assessor from the list provided by FPH. Only in very exceptional circumstances will FPH send a direct request out to assessors.

Can new Faculty Assessors 'job share' on an AAC with an established Assessor?

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.

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.

Can FPH organise equality and diversity training for Assessors?

This training should normally form part of your CPD 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. The Faculty offers regular training for new Assessors and existing Assessors wishing to have 'refresher' training. 

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

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