Support services

Support services staff carry out a range of tasks in different parts of the NHS. Some keep people or equipment safe, while others transport patients and equipment around hospitals and other NHS sites.

Safe places

Patients, staff and visitors need to be kept safe while they are in hospital or using other NHS sites.  Buildings need to be safe to use, with suitable fire exits. Everyone who works in or visits an NHS site needs to know how to keep themselves and others safe. Roles include:

Moving around the site

Hospitals are big places, with long corridors, different wings and, often, separate buildings. Patients may need moving to different parts of the hospital or to and from a hospital or clinic. Equipment needs moving, too, from the stores to the wards, for example. Specialist equipment for conferences and meetings needs setting up. Your role could be:

Safe equipment

When patients are being treated in hospital, it is vitally important that places and equipment are kept scrupulously clean. Everyone in the NHS works very hard to prevent the spread of infection and theatre support and sterile services staff are particularly focused on this.

Support staff need a range of skills and they enter the NHS in different ways. Fire safety officers or audio-visual technicians usually enter with experience (and sometimes qualifications) from elsewhere. Others may start in another NHS role. For example health and safety officers may start in an administrative role or theatre support workers may start as healthcare assistants.

There are support roles, for example porter or security officer, that need few or no qualifications, besides good literacy and numeracy. However, everyone working in support service roles need to have good customer service skills. Your ‘customers’ may be other NHS staff in some cases, but you still need the skills to deal with them courteously, and sometimes in stressful situations.

If you want to progress in the NHS, support services roles all offer the chance to take further qualifications and be promoted to team leader or manager. 

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