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Job summary

Main area
Civil Service: Higher Executive Officer (HEO)
7 months (Fixed Term Until 31 March 2022)
Full time - 37.5 hours per week (N/A)
Job ref
Public Health England
Employer type
Public (Non NHS)
Porton Down
£27,803 - £35,434 per annum
Salary period
Today at 23:59

Employer heading

Public Health England logo

COVID-19 Vacancy COVID-19 Serosurveillance Scientist

Civil Service: Higher Executive Officer (HEO)

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 a new agency (then referred to as the National Institute for Health Protection) to lead on health protection in England and to consult on the best future options for strengthening health improvement and other public health functions in the wider system. On 24 March 2021, the Secretary of State announced the new agency would be called the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), and on 29 March 2021 he announced the creation of the Office for Health Promotion (within the Department of Health & Social Care). Public Health England and many of its employees will be in scope for transition to new organisations in Autumn 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 are required to transfer to successor bodies would usually remain on their existing contractual terms and conditions ( with any proposed changes being subject to consultation) 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 UK Health Security Agency and Office for Health Promotion.

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

Public Health England provides strategic leadership and vision for protecting and improving the nation’s health. Its ambition is to lead nationally, and enable locally, a transformation in the health expectations of all people in England, regardless of where they live and the circumstance of their birth. It will achieve this through the application of research, knowledge and skills. PHE is an executive agency of the Department of Health.

PHE Porton plays an important role in preparing for and coordinating responses to potential healthcare emergencies, including possible acts of deliberate release. The site is certified to ISO 9001: 2015 and a number of laboratories are accredited to UKAS ISO 15189: 2012. PHE Porton also hold approval to provide IBMS registration and Virology specialist portfolios to provide a diagnostic service to the UK.


Main duties of the job

In addition, the centre undertakes both basic and applied research into understanding infectious diseases and manufactures a number of healthcare products, including vaccines and therapeutics. 

As a serosurveillance scientist, you will provide expertise and capability to the COVID-19 serosurveillance laboratory based at PHE Porton Down. This role encompasses sample reception and laboratory testing on a wide range of high-throughput serology platforms, as a mechanism to determine infection/vaccination serosurveillance, undertake collaborative research projects (e.g. SIREN) and inform policy decisions.


Working for our organisation

Some duties will include undertaking a range of diagnostic and research assays and techniques as required, meeting the needs of PHE Porton Labs service provision. The post holder will also produce and maintain reagents to support current testing strategies and for the development of new assays and assist in the identification, evaluation and adaptation of new technologies and diagnostic tests to enhance the laboratories capabilities and to ensure the project area works to a high scientific standard.

Detailed job description and main responsibilities

Applicants are strongly advised to use the criteria in the person specification (available online) as sub-headings in their application to make it clear how they meet each of the selection criteria.

For further information / an informal discussion about the post, please contact Ashley Otter ( or Silvia D’Arcangelo (  in the first instance.

Public Health England promotes diversity in the workplace and is an equal opportunities employer

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

Person specification


Essential criteria
  • Educated to degree level in relevant subject or equivalent level of experience of working at a similar level in specialist area eg molecular biology
Desirable criteria
  • MSc or higher qualification in an appropriate medical / microbiological/biological science
  • Registration with the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC) as Biomedical Scientist

Knowledge and Experience

Essential criteria
  • Experience of diagnostic molecular biology testing, molecular methods including real time PCR, sequencing
  • Good record keeping, attention to detail
  • Experience of working in a regulated environment with quality systems and knowledge of UKAS/ISO
  • Recent experience in a diagnostic or reference virology laboratory
  • Working knowledge of LIMS
  • Good knowledge and experience of serological methods including ELISA and IFA
Desirable criteria
  • Trained and experienced at working in CL-3

Skills and Capabilities

Essential criteria
  • Evidence of success in efficient and effective project and programme participation/management
  • Problem solving skills and ability to respond to sudden unexpected demands
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Skills for manipulating information
  • Intermediate keyboard skills
  • Ability to work on own initiative and organise own workload without supervision working to tight and often changing timescales
  • Able to work as part of team, with the ability to liaise with all levels of staff
  • An ability to maintain confidentiality and trust
  • Used to working in a busy environment
  • Commitment to continuing professional development
  • Effective organiser
  • Clear communicator with excellent writing, report writing and presentation skills; capable of constructing and delivering clear ideas and concepts concisely and accurately for diverse audiences
  • Skills for communication on complex matters and difficult situations, requiring persuasion and influence
  • Skills for nurturing key relationships and maintaining networks.
  • Adaptability, flexibility and ability to cope with uncertainty and change
  • Demonstrate a strong desire to improve performance and make a difference by focusing on goals.
Desirable criteria
  • Takes decisions on difficult and contentious issues where they may be a number of courses of action
  • Previous experience and skills in project management and planning
Happy to Talk Flexible WorkingPurple SpaceApprenticeships logoNo smoking policyMindful employer.  Being positive about mental health.Improving working livesAge positiveDisability confident employerThe Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei) is the UK's leading employer network covering all aspects of equality and inclusion issues in the workplace.

Documents to download

Apply online now

Further details / informal visits contact

Ashley Otter
Job title
Technical Lead - Serosurveillance
Email address
Additional information

Silvia D'Arcangelo

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