DD1349 Fixed term public health specialist (food) post

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
12 June 2015
Decision by: 
Jeff Jacobs, Head of Paid Service

Executive summary

Throughout 2014 public health specialist input to the Food Team has been provided by a Public Health Speciality Registrar employed by the NHS and seconded to the GLA at no cost. This training placement ended on 14 May 2015 and it is necessary to continue this specialist support to ensure the ongoing delivery and evaluation of the Food Flagships programme. The Health Team has secured £20,000 from the Food Team towards this post. The Health Team has identified funding for the remainder of the post from historic rolled-forward funding from NHS London given to the GLA for obesity work.

The current Public Health trainee who has been supporting the Flagships wrote a successful bid to PHE for £50,000 to support the evaluation through a qualitative academic study and a post is also needed to ensure this is delivered.


The Executive Director approves expenditure of up to £84,000 on recruiting a Public Health Specialist for 1 year (£20,000k for time to be spent on Food Flagships evaluation, £22,000 on leading the healthcare stream and supporting the Flagship boroughs and £42,000 on leading the health and food work across the GLA family to reduce obesity and raise educational attainment).

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

Child obesity is a Mayoral priority. The School Food Plan was launched by the then Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove in July 2013. It identified the good work that was already being undertaken by the Mayor of London and the Food Programme was cited as an example of best practice. The School Food Plan committed the DfE to fund two Flagship Boroughs in London to show the potential impact of using schools as catalysts for changes to the wider food environment.  The Flagships are committed to robustly evaluating the programme and as part of their funding agreement with DfE have to undertake an evaluation of the impact of the programme on health and educational attainment.         

This post will provide specialist expertise for the Food Flagships – leading on the healthcare stream of the programme and lead the evaluation.  Without the additional expertise and capacity of this post, the evaluation of the programme would be in jeopardy – which would undermine the impact of the work, as well as potential reputational risk to the GLA being unable to demonstrate the impact of its work and investment.

The World Health Organisation recommends a minimum of 10% is allocated to evaluating complex health improvement interventions. Of the £1.2 million Flagships’ budget £60,000 was planned for evaluating the Flagships’ approach (however £40,000 was allocated) and a total of £70,000 was allocated to each borough to evaluation the numerous interventions which are being commissioned through the Flagship boroughs (MD1328 2014/15).  0.5 wte of the specialist post will be allocated to evaluation, leading on the healthcare stream, providing public health expertise to the boroughs within the Flagships’ programme.  The remainder of the post will focus on achieving the objectives and outcomes listed below, in particular maximising the work of the GLA family in reducing obesity and raising educational attainment.  

The total spend on evaluation for the Food Flagships therefore will be £110,000. Of this sum £20,000 is being used to meet part of the costs of the public health specialist it is proposed is recruited under cover of this report, £70,000 on boroughs and £20,000 which remains currently unallocated.    

An appropriate recruitment process has been followed to date, in consultation with policy and finance colleagues, and with the Food Team.  

Objectives and expected outcomes

The post will:
•    To maximise the potential for health improvement of the GLA and the GLA family by providing expert advice and working closely with the food team and other teams across the organisation.
•    To lead the integration of public health into the Food Flagships and other teams within the GLA family, as appropriate.
•    Maximise the work to reduce obesity and raise educational attainment from across the GLA family.
•    To build relationships with Local Authority leaders, government departments, academics, third sector stakeholders and international leaders to inform the development of the GLA’s food work and other pan-London health improvement initiatives.
•    To provide a senior health voice to represent the GLA and to speak at conferences and seminars.
•    To be responsible for delivering aspects of the Mayor’s statutory Health Inequalities Strategy (HIS) which relate to obesity.
•    Ensure a close link between the Food Flagship programme and the Healthy Schools London programme.


Equality comments

The Flagships programme seeks to reduce food related illness and increase academic attainment.  Obesity is a leading cause of health inequalities and the programmes within the flagships are focused on more deprived wards.  We expect the appointment to have a positive effect on equalities through the rigorous evaluation of the impact of our work on health inequalities and health outcomes across different socio-economic groups (including those with Projected Characteristics under the Equalities Act).

Other considerations

a)    Links to strategies and Mayoral and corporate priorities
The Food Flagships contributes to a number of Mayoral Strategies:
•    Implementation of all the priorities of the Mayor’s Food Strategy: Healthy and Sustainable Food for London
•    Food-related elements of the Health Inequalities Strategy particularly on childhood obesity and food access. 
•    The adoption of Healthy Schools London by all schools in the Flagship boroughs.
•    The Mayor’s Jobs & Growth Plan
•    A major contribution to the Team London objectives to encourage and enable Londoners to volunteer in their communities 
•    Mayor’s Business Waste Strategy – commercial food waste offers considerable potential to divert waste from landfill, with positive commercial and environmental benefits
•    Economic Development Strategy – food is major employer and offers significant training and apprenticeship potential as well as high potential to increase business start-ups and innovation 
•    The London Plan, including policies on land for food, and emerging Supplementary Planning Guidance documents on lifetime neighbourhoods and access to fresh food 

b)    Impact assessments and Consultation
•    The post holder will work closely with the two flagship boroughs in supporting their programme evaluations and other boroughs in evaluating complex approaches to obesity and health improvement.  They will also support the dissemination of findings from the flagships to other boroughs to support their work in reducing obesity and health inequalities and improving educational attainment.
•    The post holder will also develop close relationships with academic and research institutions to support the evaluation of the programme and establish new opportunities for research, evaluation and dissemination.  

c)    Risk 

Without this additional capacity, the evaluation of the programme in serious jeopardy – which would undermine the impact of the work, as well as potential reputational risk to the GLA being unable to demonstrate the impact of its work and investment.  The GLA has an agreement with the Department of Education to evaluate the educational outcomes of the Food Flagships and without this post the GLA will not be able to deliver this.

Financial comments

5.1 The total cost of this proposal will be up to the value of £84,000 and will be funded from £64,000 income received from NHS London and carried forward to the 2015-16 financial-year, specifically for work relating to the London Health Improvement Board (for which MD919 approved receipt) and £20,000 from the Food Programme budget, specifically the Food Flagships project approved by MD1328.  

5.2 Any changes to this proposal, including budgetary implications will be subject to further approval via the
Authority’s decision-making process. All appropriate budget adjustments will be made. 

5.3 The Health Team within the Health & Communities Unit will be responsible for managing this initiative and ensuring all activities and associated expenditure complies with the Authority’s Financial Regulations,
Contracts & Funding Code, Expenses & Benefits Framework and HR protocols.