Liverpool City Council: The Standards for employers of public health teams in England as guidance and reflection tool

Liverpool City Council’s public health team used the Standards widely to assess, guide and support their work across the five areas covered by the Standards.

Workforce

Specifically, the Standards were used on an ongoing basis to help review and ensure appropriate standards are met with regards to partnerships and accountability, professional registration, continuous professional development (CPD) and education and training. The team is also keen to use the Standards to help with their future workforce planning work.


Highlights of progress

Liverpool City Council’s public health team has been involved in setting up and promoting the North West practitioner registration scheme. The Standards were used to support that effort, alongside the Public Health Skills and Knowledge Framework (PHSKF).

Liverpool used both frameworks to define expectations from staff in different public health roles, but also the requirements the public health team needs to meet as a whole to operate effectively and safely. The team have then worked with individual members of staff to assess their skills and CPD needs, as well as support them to take up opportunities for professional development, for example, through the North West practitioner scheme.

The Standards were also referenced where appropriate, when promoting the North West practitioner registration scheme. As a formal framework for public health standards, they helped give weight and communicate the importance of quality assurance in public health work for delivering public health outcomes effectively and safely. 

In addition, Liverpool’s public health team used the Standards as a guide and a benchmark to work towards across a number of other work areas. For example, the Standards were used to check all team members had appropriate registrations, appraisals and opportunities for CPD. They were also consulted when reviewing the effectiveness of the partnerships the team was engaged in and how these could be improved. Lastly, they were used in appraisals to establish individuals’ development needs and with apprentices and graduate trainees to ensure they were adequately supported.


Future plans

The public health team in Liverpool has recently changed its position within the Council and now sit under the Chief Executive of the Liverpool City Council. In the context of this change, the team is keen to review how well they meet the Standards and where they may need to change. The team is now considering using the Audit Checklist to help carry out this review in a structured and action-oriented way. They hope this exercise would help them establish ‘where they are now’ as a team and ‘where they need to be’. The audit would ideally also highlight what the team does well and would want to keep, as well as where it could change and develop. 

The team also have plans to use the Standards to support their future workforce planning and address the challenges in public health recruitment. Specifically, the team are interested in supporting staff across the council whose roles involve aspects of public health work to develop their skills and knowledge. For example, there may be staff within environmental health that could be supported to pursue CPD in public health. The team are also interested in exploring the opportunities for staff exchange in the context of a more integrated approach to delivering health and social care.


Lessons and key messages

The public health team in Liverpool have found the Standards useful as a benchmark to work towards to and as a reflection tool to review and guide their work. In particular, using the Standards has helped them identify their strengths and what they do well, but also gaps and where they need to develop and improve. It has also helped them underscore the importance of quality assurance for effective and safe public health work.

The team suggested that framing the public health Standards in the broader context of general employer standards within local authorities may help them to embed them further. For example, meeting CPD needs of public health workforce may be easier if these were framed within the existing learning and development standards within the council rather than positioned as separate.