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Career Development

Why should you consider a contractor role in the NHS?

Within the NHS it is often difficult to secure a permanent role without previous experience, and many contractor roles are ultimately offered on a permanent basis only after a period of time as a contractor had been completed. So why should a person consider a contractor role within the NHS? If you come from a permanent or fixed-term employment background then you will be used to, amongst other things: a fixed salary, paid sick days and holidays, maternity or paternity cover, as well as those all-important employment rights. Furthermore, as PAYE Tax and National Insurance Contributions are taken care of by the employer, it means less fiddly time-consuming number-crunching on your behalf.

Yet, as of 2013 to the present day, non-medical contractor roles have been growing at an unprecedented rate within the NHS. The surge in job opportunities – many at senior level, such as: Business Analyst, Project Manager and Tech Support contractor – are the result of a radical transformation, which the NHS took in the last three years to become more commercially viable. Currently, the NHS is the fifth largest employer in the world, and employs both permanent and contract-based members of staff. A ‘contractor’ within the NHS covers anyone brought in by a client to work at the client’s premises, who are not an employee of the client; and there are many desirable benefits to working in this way.

For example, in our November article entitled ‘What do you need to know about an NHS Project Manager Role?’ we interviewed a senior Project Manager at an NHS trust, who stated that: ‘‘once you become a contractor, it gives you a lot of self-confidence in your job and your abilities….’’ Another perk of contract work is that a typical working day can be structured in such a way that contractor working hours often have flexibility built into them. Moreover, as a higher-level contractor you not only get paid more, but you get to manage your work instead of being managed to do your work. This sense of autonomy and job variety are perhaps key reasons as to why sixty-nine per cent of IT contractors have seriously considered working in the NHS, however 44% have never applied, believing that a lack of NHS experience made such efforts pointless. A lack of previous experience is no longer a barrier when deciding to apply for a contractor role in the NHS, as according to Step into The NHS there are over 350 different career and job opportunities currently available no matter your interests, skill level, or previous qualifications.

It should be addressed at this point that unfortunately the blanket NHS Pay Cap on agency contract staff is now imposed. The cap was introduced to bring the rates of contractor pay better in line with what a permanent equivalent would earn, and they are based on the NHS’s own Agenda for Change Pay Rates. The cap on rates has meant that all prior negotiation by recruitment agencies is no longer as much in favor for the contractor as it once was. However, with that said there are many further additions to job satisfaction that contractors often report. Here is a list of contractor benefits, compiled by Brookson Accountants and the recruitment team at; a company with over 15 years’ experience in placing both fixed and contract workers in non-medical NHS positions within the UK.

- Generally speaking, pay rates are still higher for contractors in comparison to a permanent employee in the same job position. 

- Contractors report higher levels of control over their time and career overall.

- Many contractors feel that they are giving ‘‘something back’’ and making a worthwhile contribution to a public sector body that is close to the hearts of most people.

- Greater freedom to negotiate the length of the contract and be able to organise working life around personal life, such as holidays, with greater flexibility.

- Developing a highly varied CV by working with a range of clinical specialists and helping to positively change and build the future of the NHS.

- The opportunity to learn new specialisms.  

- Flexibility in terms of being able to complete a contract and afterwards move on, or accept an extension and continue on in the role for a longer period of time.  

If you are convinced that working in a contractor role within the NHS is right for you, then why no look at the latest non-medical and non-clinical job positions available on the GoToJobBoard website today.


Witten by Laura Tomlinson, Marketing Assistant at GoToJobBoard. 

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