How to become an Health Service Manager. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does an Health Service Manager do?
Health service managers are responsible for making sure a hospital, or other health organisation, runs efficiently and effectively. Their aim is to provide patients and other users with the best possible service, given the available facilities, finance and staff.
As a health service manager, your duties could include:
- supervising staff and taking responsibility for the work they do
- dealing with day-to-day operational matters
- using statistical information to monitor performance and help with long term planning
- setting and maintaining budgets
- creating and carrying out the company objectives
- implementing the policies of the board, making sure government guidelines are followed
- working with clinical staff and other professionals
- managing contracts.
Your role could range from chief executive of a large hospital to manager of a GP surgery. You could also be a manager within the ambulance service, community health service (Primary Care Trust) or a strategic health authority (local NHS headquarters, monitoring service and performance of local NHS Trusts).
Alternatively, you could specialise in an area such as personnel and finance, or clinical, therapeutic or technical support.
You would usually work around 37 hours a week, however, at times you may need to work longer hours to meet deadlines. Job share arrangements are sometimes available.
If you work in a hospital with a 24-hour service, you may need to work a shift system or an on-call, out-of-hours rota to cover emergencies.
You will be based mainly in an office, with some occasional travel for meetings, training courses and conferences.
How much does an Health Service Manager earn?
Salary and pay information:
- On completion of a graduate scheme, you can earn between £30,000 to £41,000 a year.
- Directors and chief executives can earn between £97,000 and £104,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
There are a number of ways you could get into health service management. The most direct route is through one of the NHS Graduate Management Training Schemes. To get on to a scheme, you will need a degree (minimum grade 2:2) or an equivalent qualification in a health or management related subject. Check the training and development section below for more information.
- NHS Graduate Management Training Schemes
Alternative routes into health service management include:
- working your way up from an administrative post by taking in-service training courses such as those run by the Institute of Healthcare Management (IHM) – to start as an administrator you are likely to need four or five GCSEs (grade A-C) and possibly A levels
- applying directly to the NHS for a junior management position – for this you will usually need a degree plus management experience
- joining the NHS through the 18-month fast-track ‘Gateway to Leadership programme’, which provides rapid progression to senior management posts – you will need a degree plus substantial experience at senior management level or in complex project management
- Gateway to Leadership programme
- taking an in-service training programme leading to a Certificate or Diploma in Managing Health and Social Care – for this you will usually need to be working within the NHS in a clinical role (or a profession related to health).
You can also check the IHM and NHS Careers websites for more details of schemes, training programmes and alternative entry qualifications.
- Institute of Healthcare Management
- NHS Careers
Training and Development
Your training will vary depending on the route you take to become a health service manager. Joining on an NHS graduate scheme, your training could involve:
- (on a General Management Training Scheme) a three-month period working outside the NHS with another healthcare organisation and studying for a qualification like a Masters in Health and Public Leadership
- (on a Financial Management Scheme) working towards a professional accountancy qualification, such as CIMA or CIPFA
- (on a Human Resources Management Scheme) studying for a Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources and graduate membership of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
- (on a Informatics Management Scheme) developing creative ways to use IT to improve patient care and working towards a postgraduate qualification in Health Informatics.
These programmes take between two and three years to complete and combine work experience with theoretical study. Check the NHS Graduate Scheme website for details.
- NHS Graduate Scheme
When you have been working as a manager for around two years, you can apply to become a member of the IHM, which will give you access to a range of professional development opportunities.
- Institute of Healthcare Management
Similar schemes for both general and financial management are run in Wales (Leadership Development Scheme) and Northern Ireland (Health and Social Services Management Scheme).
Skills and Knowledge
- a flexible approach with the ability to cope with constant change
- good problem solving skills
- financial management and maths skills for budget control and cost analysis
- strong written and spoken communication skills
- the ability to give presentations and deal with the press
- the ability to motivate others to meet deadlines
- leadership skills
- good negotiation skills
- the ability to explain complex issues clearly to a wide range of audiences
- a good understanding of issues surrounding confidentiality
- the ability to deal with stress.
You could work in the NHS or private healthcare sector. You could also be based in the community, for example with larger GP practices or in a health centre, working for a Primary Care Trust commissioning local health services.
With experience and when you have completed training, such as the Finance Management Scheme or the General Management Scheme, you could progress to a senior management post. You may also find opportunities overseas.
Jobs in this area may decrease in the future as many NHS hospitals are now part of larger NHS Trusts with flatter management structures.