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Leadership, Planning and Management (Strategy and Policy)


Individuals working in leadership functions are generally at the top end of their public health career, working at Board level. They may be Directors of Public Health, Health Protection, Environmental Health or Heads of Adult Social Care and Health. These individuals provide the leadership and direction for the service they run, and influence commissioning of services and the work of others to create healthier communities. Public health leaders in the UK are responsible for setting policy priorities, and ensuring these priorities, such as reducing health inequalities, are implemented.

Indicative responsibilities in public health leadership

Example Roles Responsibilities
Director of Public Health Directors of Public Health, the key drivers of the public health agenda in their organisations, are part of the executive team and are the chief advocates for the health of their local populations. Many Directors of Public Health are jointly appointed by their local primary care organisation and local authority. They have responsibility for determining the overall vision and objectives for public health, based on local area public health information and on public health evidence. They are accountable for ensuring the delivery of key health objectives, and on preparing annual reports on the state of the public’s health and progress towards achieving public health targets. Directors of Public Health are the main source of expert advice to their Boards and lead and manage their directorates. They are also responsible for forging partnerships and influencing all local agencies to ensure that they participate as fully as possible in work on improving and protecting health.
Regional Director of Health Protection

To provide oversight and leadership throughout the region for all areas of the Health Protection Agency’s activities. This includes development of regional health protection strategies and oversight of:

  • local disease surveillance
  • laboratory services
  • alert systems
  • investigation and management of health protection incidents and outbreaks 
  • delivery and monitoring of national action plans for infectious diseases at local level
The Regional Director of Health Protection forges strong links with his/her Regional Director of Public Health and other regional government officers, and works closely with HPA colleagues based in local offices.
Strategic Director, Health and Social Care (local authority position)

To provide the managerial leadership and vision that will enable the development and implementation of innovative, flexible and community focussed approaches to service delivery in:

  • Health policy and strategy
  • Statutory responsibility for commissioning all adult social care
  • Safeguarding, Supporting People and promoting independent living

The Strategic Director: Health and Social Care leads on the implementation of standards and service improvement, delivers the cultural change to ensure that the scope for personal choice is maximised and that services move towards a model that promotes the wellbeing of individuals; is person-centred and supports independent living and social inclusion; promotes and influences a range of service providers and partners (adult social services, housing support, community services, primary care trusts, mental health trusts and other NHS organisations) to deliver the Government's vision for the future of adult social care, champions adults with social care needs and promotes social inclusion and wellbeing.


Planning and management 

Individuals with responsibility for planning and managing of services are working at senior levels of their organisation, just below Board level and higher mid-level management. They may be coordinating complex programmes in partnership with other organisations, leading on prioritisation and strategy development in different areas of health, providing senior level management of units etc. within a number of different organisations.

Indicative responsibilities in planning and management

Example Roles Responsibilities
Head, Health Commissioning The Head of Health Commissioning works closely with Directors of Public Health to ensure that population health needs assessments are sufficiently robust and that their findings are useful in determining population health priorities, which in turn will inform plans and programmes. They lead on local joint commissioning policy and strategy development and are responsible for establishing and reviewing joint commissioning arrangements, including assessing different options that could be used to ensure commissioning meets the business needs of their organisation. They are also responsible for securing the active participation of patients, service users and their carers in the operation of joint commissioning – in particular ensuring contributions from those who are hard to reach.

If you would like to see more roles in this area, do a role search or a career story search in Leadership, planning and management.

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