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Right people, right time, right place

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Improving health in the workplace

The Human Resources team has been busy over the past year transferring more than 5,000 staff from 120 sender organisations safely into PHE and appointing 1,000 new staff across our 115 different sites, ranging from Glasgow to Truro. This was only possible by working in close collaboration with colleagues in Finance and with our managers and staff side representatives across PHE.

We are now well into the second year of PHE and HR is looking ahead, planning for our future workforce within the wider public health system.  PHE-wide collaboration with Finance and all our frontline and service teams will enable us to develop our first integrated workforce plans across all our directorates and regions, ensuring we have the right people in the right place at the right time, with the right skills. Many of our staff undertake highly specialist roles, ranging from radiation protection scientists and healthcare scientists to social marketing (you've probably seen the recent Dementia Friends campaign on TV) and local health protection and knowledge and information staff across our four regions and 15 centres. Workforce planning in this very complex environment involves a combination of developing talent from within as well as attracting new staff with specialist skills from across the public, private and voluntary sectors. We have recruited a part-time expert in workforce planning to mentor those staff who have responsibilities for workforce planning in PHE and to ensure these responsibilities are understood and followed through at every level.

PHE also has a key responsibility to help make the wider public health system work. Kathryn Rowles, our health protection consultant lead in the Wessex centre who has been seconded to HR, is leading our professional workforce development function, ensuring that we have real expert clinical knowledge in planning our part of the future public health workforce. PHE is only a part of the wider public health system, however, and the majority of public health activity now takes place in local authorities and involves the public, private and voluntary sectors. Kathryn is working with key partners, such as the Faculty of Public Health, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Public Health and trade unions to develop guidance for local authorities to ensure that they have the right balance of skills and professions to create multi-skilled public health teams to meet the needs of their local populations. This guidance is due to be published in July. A number of workforce planning projects are also under way and we are working closely with the Centre for Workforce Intelligence and Health Education England in progressing these.

In addition Kathryn and her team are leading on the development of a public health "skills passport", working through a multi-agency reference group to help staff from different sectors and organisations show that they have the necessary skills and experience to work in a range of roles across public health. The team is also supporting our new PHE Science Forum, as well as collaborating with partners such as the Royal Society for Public Health and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health to develop the wider public health workforce.

PHE also uses the expertise of organisations like Stonewall to help ensure that PHE is a forward thinking employer which attracts the widest range of skills and experience to meet the needs of the diverse population which we serve.

All of these planning initiatives will take time to develop and improve public health outcomes, but they help a function like HR, which can often be seen as a bureaucratic, back office overhead, make a vital contribution to future frontline patient and population care.

Featured image via NHS Image Library. Used under Crown Copyright.

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  1. Comment by Bren posted on

    Hello Tony,

    An interesting and forward thinking blog. I do believe the workforce planning is essential as Public Heath England (PHE) as it brings together the workforce, and moves forward with the changing environment. I am very confident PHE is, will continue to achieve this.

    Do the people you have working part time in the workforce development also link to leadership programmes and support and nurture leaders now, and for the future.? Also, will Kathryn be looking how to share learning across PHE in the role she has, and a forum being thought of in order to share best practice and celebrate learning by doing. Just a thought.

    All good wishes and thank you for all you do for people and communities,