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Job summary

Main area
Civil Service: Grade 7
Fixed term: 12 months
Full time: 37.5 hours per week
Job ref
Public Health England
Employer type
Public (Non NHS)
St Philips Place
£48,859 - £58,769 per annum pro rata
Salary period
01/03/2021 23:59

Employer heading

Public Health England logo

COVID-19 Vacancy Lead Data Scientist

Civil Service: Grade 7

Public Health England (PHE) is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care providing; strategic leadership, research, advice and support for Government, local authorities and the NHS in protecting and improving the nation’s health

This is a Non Reserved post under the Civil Service Nationality Rules and is therefore open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals and certain non EEA members. For more information please refer to the supporting documents detailing the Civil Service Nationality Rules.

  • For posts on PHE Civil Service terms and conditions, on appointment the salary is normally the minimum point (see salary range above). This will be dependent on the successful candidate’s current salary and terms and/or equivalent experience. The Civil Service pay structure and progression is different from NHS Agenda for Change, most local authority pay grades and other systems that have annual pay increments. Please see attached an information sheet explaining starting salaries and benefits when joining PHE.
  • For clinically ringfenced AfC or Medical/Dental posts, you must obtain the correct professional registration to be appointed. The pay will follow the AfC or Medical & Dental terms & conditions. You may be asked to provide evidence on previous service whilst we are conducting pre-employment checks to determine starting salaries.

Any moves across the Civil Service may have implications on your ability to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

Temporary Appointments: If you are external to the Civil Service, you will take up the post on a Fixed Term appointment, if you are an existing Civil Servant, based outside of PHE, you will take up the post as a loan and if you are an existing PHE member of staff, you will take up the post as either a level transfer or a temporary promotion as per PHE’s Pay and Grading policy. If you are an existing Civil Servant, (in PHE or elsewhere) you must have prior agreement from your Line Manager before applying for this post.

Given the nature of the work of PHE, as a Category 1 department, you may be required in an emergency, if deemed a necessity, to redeploy to another role at short notice. You may also be required to work at any other location, within reasonable travelling distance of your permanent home address, in line with the provisions set out in your contract of employment.

We welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including groups currently underrepresented in our workforce and pride ourselves as being an employer of choice. To find out more about how we champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace, visit: PHE website    

On 18 August 2020, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced plans to establish the National Institute for Health Protection and consult on the best future options for strengthening health improvement and other public health functions in the wider system. Public Health England and many of its employees will be in scope for transition to new organisations in Spring 2021. Any new or current employees working for Public Health England during this time, will receive appropriate communications and consultation prior to any formal transfer taking place.  Employees who compulsorily transfer to successor bodies will remain on their existing contractual terms and conditions and this applies both to current employees and those recruited during the transition.  The recruitment, growth & development of our workforce is vital for the continuing success of PHE and the future National Institute for Health Protection

To be eligible for employment in the UK Civil Service applicants must meet the Civil Service Nationality Rules (CSNRs) which operate independently and additionally to the Immigration Rules. Applicants must also meet necessary security and vetting requirements, along with any other relevant pre-employment checks.

As from 1 January 2021 broadly the following groups may be eligible to work in non-reserved posts within the Civil Service:

  •        UK nationals
  •        Nationals of Commonwealth countries
  •        Nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  •        EEA nationals with (or eligible for) status under the EUSS
  •        Relevant EEA or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  •        Relevant EEA or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  •        Certain family members of the relevant EU & Turkish nationals

Recruitment teams may wish to include this in job adverts. We would suggest that CS job adverts also include a link to the CSNRs guidance on


Job overview

As Lead Data Scientist you will be part of a dynamic team responsible for delivering an effective data science service supporting public health delivery. You will work to promote data science across the Field Service and PHE and help modernize the Field Service data science programme by identifying and developing opportunities for further automation and reproducible analyses, developing new data products, enabling the service to take advantage of technological advances in PHE like High Performance Computing. You will work with others to identify opportunities and apply modern data analytical techniques including machine learning to Field Service business and public health intelligence problems and issues.

Homeworking initially/any NIS location thereafter

Main duties of the job

We are establishing a small team of Data Scientists, which you will lead, to work across Field Service in delivering an effective data science service supporting public health delivery.

You will advocate data science approaches across Field Service and help develop data science capacity and capability in PHE’s National Infection Service (NIS). This may include training, developing packages and tools.

You will be comfortable in statistical programming, coding and the use of dashboard visualisation tools, such as PowerBI and R Shiny. You will also be familiar with, and support, the implementation of Reproducible Analytical Pipelines (RAP).

The post holder will seek to influence Field Service and NIS at a strategic and operational level. The post requires a high degree of innovation and the need to take initiative. The post requires excellent communication both in writing and orally, and the ability to think critically and strategically.

Working for our organisation

Public Health England (PHE) is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care providing; strategic leadership, research, advice and support for Government, local authorities and the NHS in protecting and improving the nations health. We offer a benefits package designed to provide an excellent work/life balance, including generous annual leave entitlement, flexible working hours, possibility of working from home and membership of the excellent civil service pension scheme. We are absolutely committed to the development of our staff and offer wide-ranging opportunities for training and professional development

Option 3 – External

Open to all external applicants (anyone) from outside the Civil Service (including by definition internal applicants).

Detailed job description and main responsibilities

  • Maintain and develop data product tools in Field Service using R, PHP, Python or other languages
  • Work with colleagues from across Field Service to produce innovative data reports based on data feeds.
  • Develop automated and reproducible pipelines for analysis
  • Develop scalable, innovative approaches to extract, manage, and analyse surveillance and outbreak data.
  • Act as lead data scientist for reporting and visualisation tools, liaising with analysts from across the Field Service and National Infection Service to prepare for statistical launches, regular checking and testing of outputs, and bug reporting etc.
  • Act as a technical subject matter expert on data science applications within Field Service and across the health sector where you are recognised as having specialist knowledge in that area
  • Support the implementation of Reproducible Analytical Pipelines (RAP) within Field Service, promoting reproducible analysis (i.e. analysis with a clear audit trail that explains how and why it was carried out) and the use of the software methods used to make analysis reproducible
  • Support the development and use of dashboards (eg PowerBI, R Shiny) to facilitate the visualisation and dissemination of data to key stakeholders and the public.
  • Line management of staff

Person specification


Essential criteria
  • Postgraduate qualification in a field strongly related to data science, i.e. one that involves applied mathematics/statistics and coding or significant experience of working at a similar level in specialist area


Essential criteria
  • Strong proficiency in applying analytical and statistical techniques using a variety of software/codebases including expert level knowledge of coding including R and Python or other programming languages relevant to data science.
  • Ability to construct and effectively communicate data stories using data visualisation techniques and narrative storytelling.
  • Working knowledge of key issues and developments in data science including Reproducible Analytical Pipelines (RAP)
  • Understanding of data validity, reliability and confidentiality issues and of disclosure control methods and knowledge of statutory information governance and data confidentiality requirements and others relevant to public health data
Desirable criteria
  • Experience of working in public health or health care information services setting
  • Evidence of leading on a challenging portfolio containing a mix of policy, strategy and performance priorities, spanning across organisational boundaries
  • Understanding of techniques and applications of public health and healthcare intelligence including surveillance, needs assessment, audit and information support to commissioning.


Essential criteria
  • Well-developed problem solving skills and a flexible approach to developing solutions.
  • Proficient to a high level in organisational skills with evidence of scheduling to meet tight and challenging deadlines, managing complex and multiple pieces of work (verbal and written)
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills with the ability to influence and negotiate at all levels
  • Ability to communicate highly complex or sensitive statistical information to other specialists and non-specialists.
  • Experience of managing others
  • Takes decisions on difficult and contentious issues where there may be a number of courses of action.
  • Strategic thinking – ability to anticipate and resolve problems before they arise

Equality & Diversity

Essential criteria
  • An understanding of and commitment to equality of opportunity and good working relationships, both in terms of day-to-day working practices, but also in relation to management systems
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Applicant requirements

The postholder will have access to vulnerable people in the course of their normal duties and as such this post is subject to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (Exceptions Order) 1975 and as such it will be necessary for a submission for Disclosure to be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service to check for any previous criminal convictions.

Documents to download

Apply online now

Further details / informal visits contact

Alex Elliot
Job title
CRF-Consultant Epidemiologist
Email address
Telephone number
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