Health services management

interconnecting cogs with healthcare symbols

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Health sector management is about managing the cost, delivery and quality of healthcare services, eg in a hospital, GP service or community health service.

Skills and characteristics required will include leadership, financial management, motivation, problem solving and communication.

The main employer in the UK is the NHS (National Health Service), but there are also private healthcare providers, medical, biotech and pharmaceutical companies, and voluntary sector organisations.

Find out about health services management

Key resources

Find out what working in health services management really involves and make sure that you have a realistic understanding of the nature of the work. What would the day to day activities involve? What are the opportunities for career progression?

Background information

  • Institute of Healthcare Management has information about continuing professional development (CPD) and training programmes. They also offer a student membership at a discounted price
  • Health & Social Care Information Centre provides information, statistics, reports and surveys for health and social care
  • Health Education England is a Non-Departmental Public Body, responsible for education, training and development of staff and recruiting for values. Local body, Health Education Yorkshire and the Humber, works with key partners to ensure local workforce requirements are met
  • The Kings Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and healthcare in England. They help to shape policy and practice through research and analysis, and promote understanding of the health and social care system
  • The Nuffield Trust is an independent source of evidence-based research and policy analysis for improving healthcare in the UK
  • Healthwatch seeks to shape healthcare services, acting on behalf of service users

What skills do I need?

Typical required skills include:

  • Leadership
  • Decision-making, particularly in sensitive situations (eg where there are pressures on funding and staffing)
  • Negotiation, persuasion and collaboration, often with a wide variety of stakeholders
  • Problem-solving
  • Analytical skills with data, trends and large amounts of information
  • Resilience, being able to working well under pressure and in an ever-changing environment

Work experience

Work experience in the NHS is not essential (prior to the NHS management scheme), but any experience in an administration, health or social care setting may be useful. Experience related to the individual NHS management schemes will also be helpful (eg finance, HR, informatics, etc).

Finding jobs

The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme generally opens for applications in October, to start the following September, and in August for the following March. The website includes a 'Match Me tool' to help you decide whether this is the scheme for you. You can specialise in:

  • finance
  • HR
  • general management
  • health informatics
  • health analysis
  • policy and strategy
  • Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) Health Policy Fast Track Scheme

Applications are open to graduates with a 2:2 or above in any subject area, except for the DHSC Policy Fast Track Scheme (2:1 or above).  Applications are accepted from candidates currently on a Tier 4 student visa who will need Tier 2 visa sponsorship. The NHS graduate scheme has a blog to give you an insight into the scheme. There are similar schemes in Scotland and Wales.

Jobs are advertised on:

It can be possible to move into management from gaining experience in a more junior position or administrative role, which may also help you develop an understanding of how the organisation works.

You may choose to study for a Masters in Health Management - universities may offer courses to new and recent graduates, but some healthcare work experience may be advantageous.

What can I do at York?

  • Read up on the latest issues facing health care provision with the Institute of Healthcare Mangement, Health Service Journal and NHS England
  • Talk to people working in the sector - use York profiles and mentors (search Healthcare) - and attend our networking and employer events on campus. Make contacts through LinkedIn too
  • Courses or activities that will help you build your commercial awareness will be invaluable. Check out our enterprise activities or MOOCs (mass, open, online course)
  • Expand your knowledge of a subject area or topic by attending one of the Public Lectures, organised by the university
  • Volunteer opportunities offer placements and internships. These can help you develop skills such as project management, team work, communication, problem solving, organisation and time management
  • You can also search for voluntary work in relevant organisations and settings via the Do-it website, which allows you to search by location and area of interest
  • Look at the student guide (and free student membership) from the Association for Project Management to acquire additional skills.
  • Listen to our What do you actually do!? podcast with Kate Pyle, compliance and corporate services manager at St Leonard's Hospice for insight into the kind of work you could do.