Working in administration in the NHS: A vital role

If you’re looking for a rewarding career where you can make a real difference, working in the NHS as an administrative staff member might be just what you’re looking for. You’ll be a key player in ensuring everything runs smoothly, providing essential support to both clinical and non-clinical teams. From keeping meticulous records to making sure patients and other organisations can reach the right person for help, NHS administrative staff are the unsung heroes who keep the health service ticking.

Key administrative roles in the NHS

Administration in the NHS encompasses a variety of roles, including:

  • Clerk: Clerks make sure patients have the information they need for their care. They oversee routine administrative tasks and record-keep.
  • Health records staff: These admin staff make sure that vital patient information is recorded and stored accurately so their medical colleagues can access it when needed.
  • Receptionist: The first member of staff you are most likely to see when going into a hospital is a receptionist. They greet and assist patients and visitors.
  • Secretary: A secretary’s role includes providing clear and concise documents to help the frontline healthcare professionals and other staff to support and care for the patients. The documents can include reports, letters and case notes.
  • Telephonist/switchboard operator: Telephonists act as a key point of contact for our patients in making sure they and their families can speak to the appropriate departments.

Essential skills and qualifications

To excel in any NHS administrative role, a good standard of literacy and numeracy is essential. Typically, employers look for candidates with GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and Maths. Proficiency in IT is also highly valued, as many NHS systems are IT-based. Additionally, strong time management, organisational and communication skills are crucial for success.

Career progression and opportunities

One of the great advantages of working in NHS administration is the potential for career advancement. There are numerous opportunities to undertake further qualifications and move up the career ladder. You might start as a clerk and progress to a team leader or supervisor role. From there, you could become an administration manager, overseeing the planning, coordination and direction of NHS business operations.

Alternatively, your administrative experience can open doors to other healthcare roles. If you have an aptitude for numbers, you might transition into finance. Those with a flair for IT might find opportunities in health informatics, contributing to the digital transformation of the NHS.

Patient interaction and work environment

The level of patient interaction varies by role. Ward clerks and receptionists, for example, frequently engage with patients, providing frontline support. In contrast, switchboard operators typically work in headquarters buildings, primarily interacting with fellow administrative staff. Typists, secretaries and PAs, often based in hospitals, may have limited direct patient contact but play a vital role in supporting healthcare professionals.

Administrative staff are the backbone of the NHS, ensuring that it remains well-organised and efficient. Whether you’re booking appointments, managing health records or supporting medical staff, your role is crucial in helping the NHS deliver high-quality care. With a range of career paths and opportunities for advancement, working in NHS administration offers a fulfilling and dynamic career.

If you’re ready to start your admin career with the NHS, Brook Street is here to help. With offices spread throughout the country, we have a variety of NHS administrative roles. Our experienced consultants are on hand to match your experience and skill set with suitable roles.

View all our job opportunities and apply for a role today!