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Public Health Transition

The proposals set out in the documents mentioned below will affect all staff within the NHS, particularly those within Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs). The main changes that will be brought about are summarised on the page The Public Health System in England - All Change! For timescales, see the Transition Timetable.


The Public Health White Paper, Healthy Lives, Healthy People

The White Paper Healthy lives, healthy people: Our strategy for public health in England was published on 30 November 2010. The 98-page document sets out the Government’s long-term vision for the future of public health in England. The aim is to create a ‘wellness’ service (Public Health England) and to strengthen both national and local leadership.

The development of the public health White paper was informed by evidence presented in a second publication, which appeared at the same time. Our Health and Well-Being Today aims to set out the state of the nation’s health and wellbeing in 2010.

Responses to the White Paper:

The UKPHR's response to the public health White Paper may be read here.
The FPH's press statement on the public health White Paper may be accessed here.
THE CIEH's response to the public health White Paper may be read here.

To get the details of the new system right and ensure that it delivers significant improvements to the health of the population, the Department of Health consulted on some elements. The consultation on these questions opened on 30 November 2010 and closed on 31 March 2011.


The Health and Social Care bill

The Health and Social Care Bill was introduced into Parliament on 19 January 2011. The Bill is a crucial part of the Government’s vision to modernise the NHS so that it is built around patients, led by health professionals and focused on delivering world-class healthcare outcomes.

The Department of Health has produced factsheets explaining the key topics contained in the Bill.

The Bill takes forward the areas of the white paper Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS (July 2010) and the subsequent Government response Liberating the NHS: legislative framework and next steps (December 2010), which require primary legislation. It also includes provision to strengthen public health services and reform the Department’s arm’s length bodies, as set out in the public health white paper Healthy Lives, Healthy People: our strategy for public health in England (30 November 2010).


Listening exercise

In April 2011, the Secretary of State announced the start of a listening exercise, to pause, listen, reflect on and improve the Government's proposals for modernising the NHS. The listening exercise was led by the independent NHS Future Forum. On 13 June 2011, the NHS Future Forum published NHS Future Forum Recommendations to Government on the future for NHS modernisation. On 20 June 2011, the Government published a detailed Government Response to the NHS Future Forum Report. A short summary of the Government's response is available here.

On 14 July 2011, the Government published a policy statement Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and Way Forward, reaffirming its vision for a new public health system. It sets out the progress made in developing its vision for public health, and a timeline for completing the operational design of this work through a series of Public Health System Reform Updates.

On the 27 July 2011, the Government published Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Consultation responses, a summary of responses received to questions raised in the White Paper and associated consultation documents.

To read the Faculty of Public Health's response to Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Update and Way Forward, click here.

On 18 August 2011, the Department of Health published summaries of responses received to the consultation on Liberating the NHS. These are:

Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce - a summary of consultation responses;
Liberating the NHS: An Information Revolution - a summary of consultation responses.

On 10 January 2012, the NHS Future Forum gaves its second set of reports to the Government  and the government publishes its response to the second NHS Future Forum Report and accepted its recommendations.

On the same day, the Department of Health published:
Liberating the NHS: Developing the Healthcare Workforce


Human Resources

The Department of Health has published the HR Transition Framework, which contains an outline of the guiding standards relating to employee movement from ‘sender’ (current) to ‘receiver’ (new or changed) organisations at a national and sub-national level.

  • This national HR Transition Framework provides generic guidance covering the employment and HR processes throughout the transition, as well as setting out specific requirements for the receiver organisations listed at Annex A. It is recognised that employees may be affected in different ways depending on the functions within which they are employed and the roles they undertake. This Framework is intended to help provide consistency during the transition as well as encouraging best HR practice throughout
  • Further national guidance may be issued as required to support the transition. For example, a proposed concordat is currently being developed to support the Public Health transition. Any further guidance issued will reflect the standards, principles and key content of this HR Transition Framework
  • For each new receiving organisation, listed in Annex A, People Transition Policies should be produced to set out how affected employees will be incorporated from different senders into the new employer, and the arrangements that should apply to them post-transfer. This will be the responsibility of each of the receiving employers and the People Transition Policies will be published in due course
  • This HR Transition Framework is designed to support and be complementary to regional and local employer policy for dealing with organisational change.

On 16 November 2011, the Public Health England Transition Team published the Public Health Human Resources (HR) Concordat.

The Concordat is aimed specifically at staff and employers in PCTs commissioning public health functions and local authorities who will be affected by the transfer of PCT public health functions and responsibilities in 2013. The Concordat complements the HR Transition Framework. Specifically, however, it provides guiding principles and HR standards for the transfer of PCT public health commissioning activity and functions ("senders") to local authorities ("receivers") and a fair and consistent approach to managing the related detailed HR processes in a local context.

On 13 January 2012, the Department of Health published Public health transition planning support for primary care trusts and local authorities, a guide produced with the NHS and Local Government to support Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities as they develop transition plans for the transformation of the local Public Health system, including how transfer of accountability from the NHS to Local Government will be enacted during the transition year.

On 26 July, the structure of Public Health England was published and is available here. Also published was the People Transition policy, which is available here.


Health and Social Care Act (2012)

On 27 March 2012, the Health and Social Care Bill gained Royal Assent, becoming the Health and Social Care Act (2012) .


Workforce Strategy

On 27 March 2012, the Department of Health published Healthy Lives: Healthy People: Towards a workforce strategy for the public health system, a document covering the challenges and opportunities, wider workforces and local community issues, and how to make sure we get it right for the public health specialist workforce. The consulation on the document will close on 29 June 2012. The consultation is aimed at a wide audience, reflecting the Government’s view that public health is everyone’s business, and the findings will be used to inform a new strategy for this important group of staff. The Local Government Association, which endorsed the document, is encouraging councils to take part in the consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions 

NHS Employers has put together information about managing the transition to the new health system set out in the government's health and social care bill and a list of frequently asked questions to help NHS trusts understand more about the transition.

In addition, you may also wish to consult PHORCaST's list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), which is designed to give some introductory HR information to NHS staff during the public health transition period. This information is provided for guidance only and should not be regarded as an authoritative statement of the law, which can only be made by reference to the particular circumstances which apply. It may, therefore, be wise to seek HR or legal advice.

Supporting the Transition

From Transition to Transformation in Public Health 
An online resource to assist local authorities and public health to develop a local public health system that is designed to have the greatest potential for improving health, not just in councils but with all local partners.

Transition Alliance (North West) 
The Transition Alliance is working with stakeholders across health, local government and the voluntary sector, to offer practical support during the period of transition for health, wellbeing and social care.  We seek to add value, enable inter-agency action and improve the use of available resources.  We are focusing on the implementation of Health and Wellbeing Boards, the transition of Public Health responsibilities to Local Authorities and the development of the new NHS provider arrangements.

National and Regional Transition Resources 
Links to resources that support the transition.

See also:

The PHORCaST pages on:

The Department of Health website for:

Modernisation of Health and Care
A regular bulletin explaining aspects of the transition.


Document downloads

  • Frequently Asked Questions
    Adobe PDF document, 83 KB

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