Health service manager: job description

Health service manager: job description

Health service managers are responsible for the strategic, financial and day-to-day management of general practitioner, local authority and hospital health services.
Most graduates enter the profession via the NHS management training scheme. However, there are some opportunities with private clinics and hospitals.

What does a health service manager do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Some health service managers specialise in a specific area such as finance, human resources or IT. Key responsibilities of the job include:

  • directing, coordinating and administering medical and non-medical resources, facilities and services
  • liaising with clerical, medical and professional staff at all levels
  • developing services and implementing changes
  • recruiting staff
  • attending meetings
  • writing reports
  • managing budgets
  • dealing with complaints or problems
  • ensuring services meet national standards

Typical employers of health service managers

The National Health Service (NHS) and private clinics and hospitals employ health service managers.

NHS management training scheme vacancies attract strong competition. The selection process includes a two-day assessment centre, which consists of written and psychometric tests, panel interviews and group exercises.

Opportunities are advertised on the NHS website, by careers services, in local, regional and national newspapers and in Health Service Journal.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into health service management for both graduates and school leavers.

For graduates, the NHS management training scheme is the most common route into the profession, and provides an initial training programme and excellent opportunities for promotion into senior managerial and specialist roles. The finance stream lasts two and a half years, while the other streams, including general management, HR management and health informatics management, last two years.

Any degree discipline is acceptable for entry: relevant skills and personality are usually more important than subject studied. A business, economics, or management qualification can be helpful however, as can any related work experience. The latter may be gained via speculative applications, for which the NHS Handbook and the list of authorities and trusts available on the NHS website contain useful contact information.

To find out about how you can get into careers in this area via a school leaver route, see the public sector and charity area of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for health service managers

Employers seek motivated candidates who are adaptable and capable of working well under pressure, with excellent teamwork, analytical and managerial skills. Good verbal and written communication skills are essential, as is a mature, confident and sensitive manner.