Stores and distribution staff

Stores and distribution staff make sure that a range of essential supplies are delivered to the right wards, clinics and health centres.

This page has information on the role of stores and distribution staff in the NHS, including entry requirements and skills needed. 

Working life

The NHS relies on having the equipment and materials it needs in the right place, on time. Items can include anything from drugs and operating theatre supplies, to wheelchairs, parts for ambulance vehicles or the latest piece of radiotherapy equipment.

man with canisters

Your work in stores and distribution will include

Depending on what the stocks are and where they need moving, you may use

Stores and distribution staff work at different levels. Stores and distribution assistants work in a team, supervised by a team leader who organises the day-to-day workload.

A manager is responsible for stores and distribution in a hospital or area. They also

Where will I work?

You might be based within a trust headquarters building, a stores department within a hospital or other health provider, or a distribution warehouse, well away from where healthcare is being provided.

Who will I work with?

You may have contact with healthcare staff, such as operating department practitioners, phamacy staffadministration staff and porters. You will also work with external suppliers of equipment and supplies. You are likely to have little or no contact with patients.

Some stores and distribution staff work for companies which supply goods and services to the NHS.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements for stores and distribution assistants. Employers expect a good level of literacy, numeracy and IT. They may ask for GCSEs (or equivalent) in English and maths along with an IT qualification such as ECDL.

Employers may ask for experience. Even where it is not specified, it can be useful if you have experience in stores and/or distribution. This could be, for example, from retail or warehousing work. There may be opportunities to gain relevant experience through an apprenticeship.

You can enter the NHS as a stores and distribution manager with relevant qualifications and experience. Employers usually ask for a degree level qualification. This could be, for example

Degree courses are three or four years full time. To get onto a relevant degree course you usually need 

or alternative qualifications, including

However, each institution sets its own entry requirements, so it’s important to check carefully.

Skills needed

Stores and distribution staff need to be

Training and development

When you join the NHS in stores and distribution, you will get the training you need. This includes, health and safety and an introduction to the department and its systems and procedures. Your employer will expect you keep your skills up to date by attending short courses.

Whatever level you are working at, you will be encouraged to take further qualifications. This could include NVQs or qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) or the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILTUK).

Stores and distribution managers can become members of CIPS or CILTUK and apply for chartered status. Chartered procurement and supply professionals and chartered members of CILTUK have to keep their skills and knowledge up to date with annual CPD (continuing professional development). CIPS and CILTUK both run courses, conferences and seminars where staff can update their skills and network with others.

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