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Consultants in public health

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Are you a consultant (doctor or non-doctor) working in public health, or considering a local authority opportunity?

This guidance contains information and advice which will help you ensure that your employer recognises your value and understands the principles of your role. Its focus is on underlining the importance of employing public health consultants in local teams and ensuring job evaluation processes place the right emphasis on the skills, experience and qualifications that consultants bring to their teams.


In brief

This guidance has been prepared by the professional arm of the Public Health Medicine Consultative Committee, which includes representatives of the BMA, the Faculty of Public Health, and Unite.

The principles within this guidance have enabled a number of authorities to evaluate consultant jobs at a level corresponding to the NHS consultant scale.


In detail

The guidance explores questions and answers relating to:

  • How public health specialists are professionally recognised
  • Why public health consultants are needed
  • The nature of consultant careers
  • Why both medical and non-medical entrants are needed in a team of public health consultants
  • The market for employing consultants in public health
  • Potential for undervaluing consultants in local government job evaluations, and suggested action
  • Particular considerations for authorities using NJC or Hay job evaluations
  • The role of Faculty Advisors in relation to gradings and salaries
  • The role of Advisory Appointments Committee (AAC) members
  • The future and importance of public health in local authorities
  • Implementation of contracts
  • Pay rates and salaries

The guidance explains that the public health service which local authorities are now responsible for, is part of the comprehensive health service for which the Secretary of State is accountable to parliament. Public health in local authorities is a service and requires specialist leadership. It is not a public administration function which can be undertaken by any local or national government staff.

It is understood that the free movement of public health specialists in jobs in local authority, Public Health England and the NHS, is necessary to maintain comprehensive health service and hence to protect and improve the public’s health and retain the capacity of the public health system to respond. The need for local authorities to maintain medical specialists of equal status to their colleagues in the NHS will become increasingly important as health and social care integration progresses and the role of local government in the health service increases.

This guidance has been issued as a response to local authorities' and public health specialists' need for advice with regards to the evolving nature of this important line of work. The principles addressed apply UK-wide, however, variations in employment arrangements and nation-specific considerations may apply for the time-being amongst the four devolved nations.



Employing public health specialists in local government (PDF)