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General information


Finding the principal local councils throughout the UK

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
COSLA is the representative voice of Scottish local government and also acts as the employers’ association on behalf of all Scottish councils.


Education and training


Education and training opportunities for public health staff in councils in Scotland

In relation to Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) the opportunities are predominately is based on business needs. Principally this would be through Continuous Professional Development (CPD) events offered by the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS), Scottish Government NES/HPS and similar. There are Higher Education opportunities such as the Master's in Public Health (MPH) at Glasgow University, MPH by distance learning at the University of Sheffield. MSc in Infection Control at the University of Highlands and Islands or research through the University of Strathclyde. The development opportunities, however, will vary from local authority to local authority dependant on business needs and training and development policies.

In respect of Health Improvement Officers (HIOs), NHS Scotland hosts the Health Improvement Leadership Programme which is open to HIOs. Health Scotland also supports the HI trainer’s network to support people who deliver training across a range of themes. Some HIO’s are part of this programme. Health issues in the community is a national training resource that has been adapted for use with local authority workers in some areas. This has been developed into short themed courses and has been used for joint training with local authority and NHS staff.

The arrangements for personal development for public health staff in local councils in Scotland
Training and professional development needs will be identified as part of established review processes within each employing organisation. The training and development needs identified through this process will vary according to where the post sits and the business needs of the organisation. In respect of HIOs, staff are able to access health improvement training which has been developed for NHS staff, however, there are no courses available which have been tailored for the specific needs of local authority staff working in health improvement. Neither is there a clear pathway for career progression for health improvement officers that can be linked to training needs. This may vary according to where the officer is located.

In relation to EHOs the personal development review process adopted by local authorities based on business needs may at times fit hand in glove with REHIS CPD events, however, on many occasions there is a disconnection between employer’s business needs and the professional development needs of individuals.

What contacts do local authorities in Scotland have with educational bodies?
In relation to EHOs the key relationship for training student EHOs is predominately with the University of Strathclyde. Other relationships are mentioned in the response to the first question. REHIS as the professional body is used as a focal point for training and the Institute have strong relationships with a number of educational bodies and providers and can also accredit the training.

With regard to HIOs contact with educational bodies will vary across Scotland with universities and colleges within the locality of authorities being utilised to deliver a range of courses related to health improvement activity.

Do local authorities in Scotland fund education and training from their own monies?
Funding for training of local authority staff will generally come from dedicated training budgets, however, the budget will not be restricted to health related staff and will be under pressure with competing interests.

How do I get access to secondment or personal development opportunities?
This would generally be accessed by an employee discussing with their line manager and proactively seeking secondment opportunities with Health Boards, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Food Standards Agency Scotland (FSAS), Scottish Government, etc.

How do I access Continuing Professional Development (CPD) monies?
As mentioned above, monies are accessed through local authority training budgets but they are not solely for public health employees who in reality will only access a small fraction of the training budget which impacts on CPD.

What about leadership courses etc. and the wide range of ways to develop?
Local authorities in general have programmes in place to develop the general management and leadership skills of employees. These will vary from authority to authority, however, in general terms development training is provided in relation to front line supervisor management, to management foundation, management development and ultimately leadership development. These are generic training programmes and are not specific to public health employees in local authorities.

How do I find out who to contact in my Local Authority about my professional development?
The employee’s line manager should be contacted, however, he or she will be constrained by the business needs of the authority which on many occasions will not be consistent with professional development needs.

In conclusion public health employees within local authorities have to compete with the wider interests and remits of the authorities and continuous professional development is not always consistent with the identified business needs of the employer. EHOs have the advantage of being members of a long established professional body REHIS who ensure that a range of CPD events are available for members and the institute encourages participation in its CPD scheme.

HIO are not so fortunate and rely on a range of training providers with no consistent overview. Unfortunately, within local authorities in Scotland EHOs and HIOs work within different department structures which dilutes their overall public health influence.

In theory local authority EHOs and HIOs can participate in the registration by portfolio for Public Health specialists however, the support for this varies from authority to authority. In reality there are very few local authority public health employees who have embarked on this route.

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