Working in health

Healthcare aims to help people stay healthy and well, and recover when they get unwell. Working in healthcare offers a unique opportunity to make a positive impact while being supported to develop personally and professionally. There's a huge amount of choice to suit different skillsets and interests.

What's covered?

We will provide you with the key information you need to take your first steps to getting a healthcare role.

You can either scroll through the entire page or jump to particular sections.

What types of jobs are available?

Find out about the wide range of healthcare jobs available, including patient-facing and non patient-facing roles.

What do different roles involve?

See examples of what jobs at different levels would involve, and the qualifications and experience you'd need.

What pay and benefits can I expect?

Find out more about the pay scale and other benefits you can expect if you work for the NHS.

How can I get

See how to gain the skills, experience and qualifications you’ll need to start your career.

What jobs are available in healthcare? 

There are lots of organisations providing healthcare in south east London. Many of these are part of the National Health Service (NHS), and some are part of the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. There are also many community providers providing care on our high streets.

These organisations in England, including south east London, are divided into three areas:

Primary care

This is often provided at GP practices, pharmacies or at home, as the first point of contact for patients, for general advice and support. They can suggest or refer people to more specialised support if needed.

Examples of roles might include: 
Practice nurse

Examples of supporting roles might include: 
GP practice manager
GP practice receptionist

Secondary care

This is care provided by professionals who have specialised in a particular area, and is often provided in hospitals.

Examples of roles might include:
Specialist doctor (such as a gynaecologist, paediatrician, gastroenterologist or psychiatrist).
Clinical nurse specialist (specialising in an area such as haemotology, ophthalmology, or learning disabilities).
Radiographer (who take scans of patients to help treat conditions).
Allied health professionals (such as a physiotherapist, occupational therapist or speech and language therapist).

Examples of supporting roles might include:
Information Technology (IT) specialist
Human Resources (HR) adviser
Education and training officer
Hospital chef
Hospital porter
Ambulance dispatcher

Tertiary care

This is very specialised care, such as care for a specific cancer or conditions of the brain, or hospice care.

Examples of patient-facing roles might include:
Cardiothoracic surgeon
Hospice doctor
Specialist oncology (cancer) physiotherapist 

Examples of supporting roles might include:
Administrative assistant
Medical researcher

Supporting roles

There are thousands of opportunities in south east London to work in supporting roles that don’t involve regular contact with patients.

Routes into these roles can involve either relevant experience in another sector, or through training.
These can vary widely — here are some examples.
Education and training
Health economics
Human Resources
Project management
Quality assurance
Risk management
Service administration
Service improvement

What do different roles involve?

Click below to see examples of roles and the responsibilities involved, working at different pay bands. Please note that roles can vary a lot in responsibilities and requirements, depending on the setting, organisation, and needs of patients.

Senior nursing assistant (Cancer care)

Carrying out assigned tasks as part of clinical team in support of registered nurses.

General nursing activities such as dressings and blood tests.
GCSEs or equivalent.

NVQ Level 3 in Healthcare or equivalent qualification in the area of speciality.

Experience as a healthcare assistant.
You might start by gaining experience as a nursing assistant, before progressing to a role like this.

Community Nursery Nurse

Work with mothers to provide complex healthcare to their babies.

Promote and support the health of mothers and their babies.

Support mothers and other healthcare professionals in ensuring babies receive appropriate emotional and practical care.
National Nursery Board qualification or equivalent to BTEC / NVQ level 3.
Start with a relevant qualification, then gain experience in a nursery setting.

Paediatric nurse

Nursing care for children staying in hospital.
Registered nurse.

Degree level study.

Experience in family-centred care.
Start with a nursing qualification and registering as a nurse. Many trusts offer a newly qualified nurse training programme (preceptorship).

Patient liaison manager – patient transport

Develop, mentor and lead an effective customer service team for the Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service.
Lead a small team investigating formal and informal complaints, and responding as required.
Knowledge acquired through degree or equivalent experience.

Further training and experience to postgraduate level.

Previous experience of a similar leadership role.
After a degree or equivalent, a person might start by working as a patient transporter or a similar role, then develop leadership experience.

Advanced occupational therapy practitioner

Acting as the ‘go-to’ senior professional on a shift.

Ensure that a team of professionals assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate effective care.

Monitor patients and review the plans for their care.
Recognised professional qualification.

Postgraduate degree.

Independent prescribing qualification.

Leadership experience.
Start with a professional occupational therapy qualification and gaining experience.

Progress to become an independent prescriber and gain leadership experience.

Highly specialist advanced nurse practitioner

Lead a highly specialist clinical service (eg a specific area of cancer care, or mental health – such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]).

Analyse, plan and manage assessment and care for people with complex needs.
First level nursing qualification.

Registered as a nurse prescriber.

Professional registration as a nurse (with a body such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council).
Start with a nursing qualification and gaining experience as a nurse.

Then choose a specialist area and pursue qualifications and experience to develop expertise in that area.

General manager – heart directorate

Lead a large directorate’s clinical, financial and operational performance, working with colleagues such as the hospital director and chief nurse.
Educated to Master’s level.

Extensive experience of working at senior management level.
People may have had management experience outside the NHS, or completed a management scheme (see below).

Integrated care director

Leading large numbers of individuals and teams in the ongoing development of integrated care services.
Professional knowledge as a qualified health or social care professional.

Minimum of three years’ operational management experience.
People may have completed the NHS management scheme and progressed to senior management roles, or have been senior clinical professionals.

You can find out more about specific job profiles here.

It’s always helpful to hear from people doing the job already, and to find out what they enjoy about their role. Watch this video to hear about Gwen's experience of being a nurse.

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What pay and benefits can I expect?

Healthcare roles provide a wide range of benefits which make an already rewarding job more appealing.
100k students
In depth analysis
Market structure
Technical insight

Variable hours

All NHS staff can expect a working week of 37.5 hours. Where there is shift or overtime work, they will be paid to reward this. Some roles may have part-time opportunities.


Healthcare in south east London is located in diverse settings including GP practices, acute hospitals, mental health hospitals and pharmacies, among others.


Salaries are based on the band system, under 'Agenda for Change'.

A 'high-cost area' supplement of 15% or 20%, depending on the location in south east London.

Pay progression based on years of service.

Training and development 

There are plenty of opportunities for career progression, based on the application of knowledge and skills.

All staff also have annual personal development reviews to support career aspirations.

How can I get started?

Whatever healthcare role you’re applying for, a helpful starting point is deciding how you might gain useful qualifications, knowledge and experience. 

Opportunities will vary depending on what role you’re going for, but there are plenty of options to explore, from work placements and volunteering to paid courses and training schemes.

Gain qualifications

Most patient-facing roles require some form of qualification or training. These could be, for example:

  • A university degree (such as in medicine, nursing or midwifery).

  • An apprenticeship (such as a registered nurse degree apprenticeship [RNDA] or nursing associate programme).

  • An accelerated or shortened course (available for allied health professions such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy).

  • Specialist public health training (a dedicated route to become a specialty public health registrar).

There are loans available to support with funding many of these options, as well as training grants of at least £5,000 for eligible student nurses.


Develop skills and understand values

The skills you'll need include both technical abilities in patient-facing roles, and more general skills that apply to many fields. In many roles you'll also need to be willing to carry out personal care tasks such as washing someone or helping them use the toilet.

Whether you’re a clinical specialist or in a non-clinical role – such as administrator or researcher – being able to communicate and empathise with patients is essential. Some examples of healthcare skills are:

  • good communication
  • empathy 
  • problem-solving skills
  • adaptability 
  • positivity.


Gain experience

It’s a good idea to gain some experience before you apply for a role. It can help you to understand the role better, as well as helping with your application. It’s also required for some entry level healthcare jobs and training courses, including university degrees and apprenticeships. Here are some ways to gain experience.

  • Work experience placements – ask a local healthcare provider if you can contribute anything from one day to a few hours a week. You can also ask anyone you know who works in healthcare or, if you’re a student, ask your school or college for a list of suitable contacts. If you’re aged 16-30, you can register with the Prince’s Trust, which runs work placement courses with the NHS.

  • Volunteering – working alongside staff as a one-off placement or for a few hours a week. You won't get paid, but should have any expenses reimbursed. Find opportunities at Imperial Health Charity, NCVO, or Do IT.

  • Supported internships – if you’re aged 16-24 you could apply for a supported internship, offering college study days with a work placement, such as Project Choice.
  • Personal experience – you could offer to care for a friend or relative who is unwell or has a disability. This will help you to develop some of the required skills and understanding.

Useful resources

There are plenty of resources available to help you identify which role is right for you, develop your skills, and provide more information about a career in healthcare.

Find your health career

Take this quick quiz to find the NHS careers that would best suit you.

Understanding the NHS

More information to help you understand the NHS in England.

NHS Leadership Academy learning

Information and resources from the NHS Leadership Academy.

Search for NHS jobs

Find current vacancies in healthcare and apply for jobs.


Find out more information on NHS apprenticeships in south east London.