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Information and communication technology (ICT) is the development, management and support of the ICT infrastructure in health organisation, including the personal computers, email systems and mobile communications.
Training and qualifications required
ICT staff deliver a variety of different services so people with different qualifications, knowledge and skills are needed. You may have a background in web development or IT helpdesks, for example.
Entry requirements will differ depending on the role but it may be possible to enter an entry-level post with no formal qualifications, but GCSEs or equivalent qualifications are an advantage. Apprenticeships in health informatics are also available. Other roles will require very specific professional qualifications such as computer science. The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme also has a health informatics strand for graduates with relevant degrees.
Expected working hours and salary range
Most ICT jobs in the NHS are covered by Agenda for Change (AfC) pay scales. This pay system covers all staff except doctors, dentists and the most senior managers. ICT staff in the NHS will usually work standard hours of 37.5 per week but some evening or weekend work may be needed depending on the role. Terms and conditions can vary for non-NHS employers and contractors.
Desirable skills and values
Staff working in ICT will need good technical skills and an ability to diagnose problems systematically. Most roles will need experience and knowledge of Microsoft Windows operating systems and Microsoft Office packages. You’ll also need problem-solving skills, experience of working as a team and be able to work under pressure. ICT staff employed directly by health organisations will need a good understanding of healthcare systems. Those employed by contractors to deliver ICT systems won't necessarily need this but it is always best to check any job descriptions and person specifications.
There are opportunities to progress your career into senior management roles. Most NHS organisations will now have chief information officers who lead the delivery of ICT systems locally, regionally and nationally. Courses in health informatics are also offered by some universities at undergraduate and master's level. The NHS has also developed training courses to support you through your career. Many of these will count towards your continued professional development and may lead to a formal professional qualifications.