Clerks do administrative work to support professionals in hospitals and health centres. Find out how they use their admin and customer skills and how you could become a clerk.
This page has information on the role of a clerk in the NHS, including entry requirements and skills needed.
Clerks are part of the wider healthcare team, supporting clinical staff such as surgeons, GPs, nurses and other health professionals. Clerks work throughout the NHS and other areas of healthcare, in clinical and non- clinical areas such as:
- hospital wards of all types
- specialist departments or clinics, including cancer centres or accident and emergency units
- GP surgeries and health centres
- the headquarters of an NHS trust
- central stores
- health records department
Depending on where you work as a clerk, you could be:
- booking patients in for appointments
- chasing up reports
- inputting data
- ordering stationery
- answering the phone
- helping to cover a reception area
- word processing
- booking patient transport
Some clerks may spend their time on a particular type of work. The job title often reflects this, for example:
- reception clerk/receptionist
- clinical coding clerk
- admissions clerk
- ward clerk
- clinic clerk
As a clerk working on a ward or in a clinic or health centre, you'll have a lot of contact with patients and their relatives and carers. You may also have contact with healthcare professionals including nurses and doctors. Other clerks may have little or no contact with patients, for example, if you work in central stores, health records departments or headquarters. You'll work closely with other administrative staff and other members of the wider healthcare team.
Entry requirements, skills and interests
There are no set entry requirements to become a clerk. Employers usually expect good literacy, numeracy and IT skills. They may ask for GCSEs or equivalent qualifications. For some jobs, employers may ask for other skills or qualifications such as word processing or data entry.
Employers often ask for relevant work experience. Even where this is not specified, it would be an advantage if you have worked in an admin or customer service role.
There are often opportunities to enter administrative roles in the NHS and other areas of healthcare, through an apprenticeship or traineeship.
Clerks need to be:
- accurate and methodical
- able to work in a team but use their own initiative
- willing to follow instructions and procedures
- able to work with all types of people
- confident using the phone
- good organisation skills
- communication skills
- IT skills
- customer service skills
Training and development
You will get the training you need to do the job. This includes an introduction to the department, how to use the IT and phone equipment and the procedures to follow. You may also have training in customer care.
You may be offered the chance to take vocational qualifications such as those from:
- the Association of Medical Secretaries, Practice Managers, Administrators and Receptionists (AMSPAR)
- the British Society of Medical Secretaries and Administrators (BSMSA)
Some clerks become members of AMSPAR or BSMSA. Both AMSPAR and BSMSA offer training, online forums and newsletters so staff can network with others doing the same type of work.
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Clerks in the NHS work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. Some clerks may work shifts, which could involve early starts, nights, evenings and weekends. Administrative staff in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. As a new entrant from 1st December 2018, you would typically start on AfC band 2 and could progress, with further training and qualifications to posts at bands 3 or 4, for example as a medical secretary. Terms and conditions will be different for administrative staff working outside of the NHS.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
With experience, you could become a team leader, coordinating the work of a team of clerks. With further experience, you could become a manager, responsible for the staff in the department.
You may also have the opportunity to move into informatics, specialising in electronic data, or into IT.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
Jobs in GP surgeries and health centres are often advertised locally.
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.
- Further information Expand / Collapse
For more information about a career in a clerical role in healthcare, contact: