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A Specialist Recruiter's View | Non-Clinical Healthcare with Sarah Steward-Kirby

Posted on May 2022

Woman recruitment consultant hiring for non-clinical healthcare roles in the NHS
For over two decades we have supported individuals in their careers by sharing our specialist market insight and knowledge. In the following interview, Sarah Steward-Kirby, Manager of our Non-Clinical NHS team, discusses her experience in this sector and the current market.


What would a career in non-clinical healthcare offer to a successful candidate?

The NHS is an amazing establishment that we’re fortunate to have, and it’s rewarding to work for; even in a non-clinical role, you’re still giving back and caring for our country. In addition, the opportunities and benefits are endless: the NHS are very invested in providing training and promotions from within, and their benefits include 25 days annual leave which increases annually, alongside an excellent pension contribution scheme which can increase to 16%.


What impact has Covid-19 had on recruitment within the sector?

The pandemic hit non-clinical employment hard because the NHS had to focus their resources on clinical work and treating patients. This crisis response means they are now experiencing the biggest backlog in non-elective care ever recorded and as a result the demand for non-clinical staff has rapidly increased. We’ve especially seen a rise in demand for those working in Referral to Treatment Time, who are needed to meet the targets set by NHS England.


What are the biggest challenges ahead for the NHS?

Heads of Department are under a lot of pressure to meet targets and require specialist staff to achieve this. From an IT perspective, there’s a particular need for individuals with knowledge of the new systems being put in place to reduce backlogs and improve patient access. That’s why it’s gratifying when we can secure skilled professionals on budget that we know will support their aims.


Where might someone begin their work in non-clinical healthcare?

There are a great number of entry-level roles which don’t require previous NHS experience: cleaners, estates & facilities workers, receptionists, administrators, security, alongside the day-to-day operational staff. These are not only for hospitals, but also care homes, dentists and GP practices which come under the NHS umbrella. We recruit for all these areas and support candidates throughout the application process.


How should someone tailor their CV to this market?

Key areas to highlight on your CV are communication and problem-solving skills, as it’s vital to be able to communicate with internal stakeholders and staff, and most non-clinical roles will frequently require you to use your initiative. Customer-facing experience is a great help due to the level of interaction with patients, and the NHS are invested in a high-level of customer service. In a similar way, it’s also good to highlight any volunteering work or extra-curricular activities you’ve been involved in that include caring and giving back to the community.


What would be a good question for a candidate to ask in an interview?

Whichever department you are joining in the NHS, it will have specific targets to hit, so asking about these will show that you’ve done your research and you know what you’re getting yourself into. It would also be good to ask about their CQC (Care Quality Commissioning) rating – these are the people who ensure hospitals are fit enough to support patients – to see where they are on the scale; and if there are areas for improvement, ask what measures are being put in place.


What opportunities are there for progression in the NHS?

The banding scheme ranges from band 2 (entry-level roles) up to band 9 (hospital directors) and provides a huge number of opportunities. If you join a large team in a band 4 role and there’s opening in band 5, it’s a fluid process to get promoted and climb the ladder; the NHS are very keen about developing and promoting their staff from within. In addition, they often offer secondments which provide the opportunity to move around different departments to see where their skillset is most suited and which role allows them to thrive.


Interested in finding out more about gaining employment within the NHS and care sector? Sarah will be delivering a webinar on this topic next Wednesday 18th at 10am. To book onto the session please call 020 8708 2298 or email


To discuss your recruitment or career plans, email Sarah at or call 0207 557 7667.