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Career Advice

How to get a job as a contractor in the NHS

The NHS is an amazing organisation. Established in 1948 and still going strong, the NHS is now the 5th largest employer in the world. As with most large government organisations however, the NHS would always prefer to employ permanent staff when they can and they do have a very good website with all their permanent medical and non-medical vacancies. 

However, over recent years we have noticed a growing need for temporary/contract staff to work in the NHS for the following reasons:

1.         In the case of sickness there is a need to cover the post with a contractor either on a short 2-3 day basis (strictly temporary status) or 3-6 month cover by a specialist contractor. 

2.         Maternity leave - with over 77% of the NHS workforce being women, this is an area with a high demand for contract staff to provide timely and long-lasting (up to a year) cover

3.         Backfill opportunities - many of the new technological innovations being rolled out across the NHS are being handled by in-house permanent staff and thus their own jobs need cover / backfill with someone with at least the same level of skills and experience as they have. These tend to be long contracts, starting at 3 months but then being extended usually up to a year or as long as the new systems take to settle in. The other advantage to a contractor in this situation is that they will often benefit from cross-training on the new systems / software being installed if they need to cover internally for sickness / holidays etc.

4.         Specialist installations - Electronic Patient Record (EPR) systems are big news right now and cannot be installed by internal staff as they lack the in depth experience required so these roles will always go to specialist contract staff such as Product Specialists, Trainers, Floorwalkers, Technicians. Project Managers and the like.

So, hopefully, I have convinced you that the NHS is a good place for a contractor to work and you are keen to take up your first assignment - what are the next steps?

Before you contact any agency or apply to any job advert you must check the approved list of agency suppliers to the NHS.  For many years it was “open season” for recruiters and any man and his dog could supply temporary/contract staff to the NHS but no more…  Since 1st April 2016 there is currently only 1 official framework that all NHS Trusts must use for the supply of contract staff.

This is known as the Crown Commercial Service Non Medical Non Clinical framework number RM971.  Information regarding this framework can be found here. This framework is split up into different sections or Lots and the two largest Lots, in terms of the number of contractors needed,  are:

Lot 3

Admin and Clerical Supply


Lot 5

IT Professionals Supply

As you will see there are a total of 8 Lots and you may be contacted by any of the official suppliers for each Lot.  But how do you know who are the official suppliers?  Simply scroll down the page until you see a number of tabs and click on the tab which says “Lot details”.


Currently there are 176 suppliers in total, so plenty of choice!

So if you are approached by (or you approach) any of the approved 176 suppliers then you are able to proceed with confidence knowing that these suppliers are fully vetted and checked by HM Government.  Using any of these suppliers correctly means that your application can be processed quickly and compliantly.  There are also increasing opportunities to go permanent in the NHS once you have been on contract for some time.  So plenty of choice and good reasons to make the NHS your next challenge!

Now that you’ve seen the breadth of opportunities available for the contractors in the NHS, take a look at our job listings and apply for the latest non-medical/non-clinical vacancies in your area, or register with GoToJobBoard to get new jobs sent straight to your inbox before anyone else sees them.

Article by Don Tomlinson, founder of max20, the only specialist recruitment business dedicated to non-medical recruitment in the NHS and founder of GoToJobBoard - the only non-medical job board dedicated to the NHS and the wider healthcare community.


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