Alison McCallum, Director of Public Health & Health Policy

Role is independent advocacy for the health of the population and leadership for its improvement and protection in line with the statutory responsibilities of the NHS and Local Authorities. There are 10 essential public health services for which I am accountable to the CMO and the Board. These are listed below (grouped to make this more straightforward) along with various corporate portfolios:

  • To assess the health status of the population of Lothian and advise the Health Board, partner organisations and the wider public on the burden of disease, specific risks and social determinants of health. 
  • To assess the effectiveness, equity and health impact of health improvement and healthcare interventions and services and advise the Health Board, partner organisations and the wider public accordingly –Health Impact of Housing report about to be published, public health input into Local Authority Development Plans, equity audit of prevention and treatment services. 
  • To address the social determinants of health within the NHS and with partners leading the development and implementation of policy, service change and specific high impact interventions e.g. employability, welfare reform, Edinburgh Poverty and Inequality Theme Group and overseeing heath improvement and inequalities partnerships in all of the community planning partnerships
  • To lead preparedness and planning for public health emergencies – lead NHS input into multiagency planning and membership of the Lothian and Borders Strategic Co-ordinating Group e.g. Dalmeny Tank Farm, Torness nuclear power station, major events e.g. Commonwealth Games
  • To lead and deliver an effective and evidence based health protection function that prevents and responds to  established and emerging hazards to human health from communicable disease and environmental hazards (including  chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) – overseeing management of approximately two incidents per week (the Legionella outbreak was one of 42 between January and June 2012)
  • To strengthen the role and impact of ill health prevention including immunisation (children and adult), population screening programmes (breast, cervical, colorectal, antenatal, child, aortic aneurysm, diabetic retinopathy) and evidence based early intervention (including Detect Cancer Early) 
  • To professional leadership and responsibility for health promotion including Health Promoting Health Services (Health Promotion service hosted by East Lothian CHP, public health practitioners 
  • To strengthen and provide leadership for academic public health – through teaching, training, research and development.    
  • Leadership, governance and development of the public health professional and specialist workforce and functions  
  • To lead development, implementation and mainstreaming of specific Scottish Government population health priorities – Keep Well, Sexual Health and BBV, Healthy Weight, Alcohol Brief Interventions, Drug Related Deaths, Smoking prevention and cessation (cessation hosted by West Lothian CHCP), Oral health improvement including Childsmile and Lifesmile.  
  • Healthcare Associated Infection – this is an integrated, whole system service hosted in UHD. This was intended to ensure that resources and effort were focused on the areas of highest risk.  
  • Decontamination - I have recently taken on the lead for delivering compliance (sites, equipment and practice) and managing outstanding risks for primary and specialist care services across Lothian. The priorities are    
  • Dentistry – In addition to responsibility for dental public health through the South East Scotland network, I have the professional lead for dentistry; support the dental reference committee (referrals for discipline, conduct, health and breach of terms of service. Member of Dental division executive and the Edinburgh Dental Institute Management Board. Managerial accountability for dentistry was shared between the Chief Operating Officer (EDI), Director of West Lothian CHCP (salaried and primary care) and Director of Finance now Director East and Mid CHP (primary care contracts).  
  • Psychology – I have taken on the professional lead following the psychology review and chair the newly formed Lothian Institute for Psychological Knowledge and Practice which is intended to build capacity, capability and joint working initially between NHS and academic psychologists.   
  • Out of Area referrals and Unplanned Activity –ensure that patients’ statutory rights to care e.g. under the mental health act are enacted where services are not available locally, to work with clinicians and national specialist commissioning arrangements to confirm eligibility and appropriateness of specialist care outside Lothian, especially care outside Scotland and in the private sector, to assure arrangements to monitor progress, quality of care and value for money. There is no public health capacity at national level and Board level consultants provide support. 
  • Caldicott Guardian, Information Governance and Sharing data safely - individual and dataset– supporting clinicians and managers and providing advice locally to around 250 formal requests, building data linkage capacity, research safe haven and multi-agency information sharing.  Data Sharing Partnership chair for Lothian and Borders, Vice Chair of the Scottish CHI Advisory Group. 
  • Research and development – I have also recently taken over as the Executive Lead for the R&D function. NHS Lothian has partnerships with the local universities, with those such as Strathclyde who have expertise in pharmacy and technology, and with a range of other Scottish, UK and international teams and institutions. 
  • Ethics – I have recently taken over the Executive Lead for the Ethics function. NHS Lothian is one of the research ethics hubs. Scotland has an approach to research ethics that provides particular scrutiny of research with vulnerable populations, enabling patients who are critically ill or adults to lack capacity, to participate in research with confidence. 
  • Chair of Scottish Directors of Public Health Group and member of Executive UK Association of Directors of Public Health

Last Reviewed: 29/04/2013