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I’ve recently taken over temporarily from Gareth Brown and have been really impressed by the sheer scale and volume of work that is in hand to create Public Health Scotland. This recently culminated in the publication of the latest iteration of the draft target operating model for the new body which was considered by the reform programme board at its meeting in March 2019.

This marks an important milestone as we move from thinking about what the new body needs to do to protect and improve health and wellbeing in Scotland and how it will work with partners, to putting in place the practical steps to establish the organisation.

Designing Public Health Scotland

In developing this, the reform programme has drawn heavily from the commissioned work and projects, and has involved a range of stakeholders with different views and perspectives.

I’ve been really struck at how consultative this process has been with well over 500 staff participating in engagement events. I’m sure as a direct result of this it has helped to develop a draft target operating model which will deliver the ambitious aims we all agreed some time ago. In particular I am confident that Public Health Scotland will be a body that supports, enables and drives change, in collaboration with partners, to achieve the ambitions of public health reform for the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland.

Clearly this isn’t the end of the process, but I’m pleased that is providing a continued opportunity for further engagement with professional groups, NHS boards, health and social care partnerships, third sector organisations and community planning partnerships on the new body.

The one emerging theme from all of the engagements has been a desire to reaffirm the ambition for Public Health Scotland to be significantly different, to be outward looking and collaborative with a strong focus on supporting the whole system – locally and nationally – and utilising the expertise, evidence, research and data capabilities the new body will have to support existing partnerships.


The target operating model balances the long term ambition for the new body with putting in place the necessary building blocks to enable the new body to be fully operational on day one. This includes the legislation required to establish Public Health Scotland.

The required consultation process which was originally anticipated to be completed in April 2019 will now be undertaken in the summer of 2019. This will be important in laying the foundations for the new body and for recruiting the leadership team –the chair, board and chief executive - who will be responsible for delivering the ambitions set out in the target operating model.

The programme board has agreed to begin the process of defining the roles and function of the senior team of Public Health Scotland.   The programme board has also agreed a process to put in place the required corporate services for the new body including those that should be delivered on ‘Once for Scotland’ basis where appropriate.

The above will ensure Public Health Scotland will be fully operational on day one, and ready to continue the journey to further develop its strong leadership role within the public health system.

The target operating model includes an indicative timeline for this journey and recognises that it is the public health system’s performance as a whole that will improve health and wellbeing in Scotland. The focus of the organisation on day one and in the future will be on Public Health Scotland’s part within this - through its services, its support and its leadership.

This is an incredibly exciting time and I am delighted to be joining you all on the journey of reforming how Public Health is delivered in Scotland.

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