Appoint Group

Nursing Careers... Does the NHS still rule?

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Historically, the majority of Nurses in the UK have commenced and completed their careers within the NHS, without ever working in the private sector. These days, however, this is starting to change rapidly and loyal NHS employees are readily considering the private sector.

There are many stigmas about the private sector healthcare, most of which stem from the theory that private companies put profits above patient care. However, our experience is that this is certainly not the case. As within the NHS, there is variety in the quality of service provision in the private sector. The viewpoint that Appoint Group consistently sees is that high quality patient care is PARAMOUNT to the reputation and success of private healthcare companies. The private sector has a significantly greater expectation of quality and, without quality, a private business will soon gain a poor reputation and profits will fall.

The private sector will very often offer single rooms, high staff to patient ratios and especially low infection rates. Waiting lists are usually minimal (if not non-existent) and treatment can start very quickly indeed. Medical staff more often than not have greater amounts of time to spend with patients and their families; explaining the details of what is happening and why, and giving them much more confidence or ability to make important decisions.

All of this can have a profound effect on employee satisfaction. It’s not uncommon for NHS staff to be stretched to the extent that they feel like they are only able to do half a job of providing real quality patient care. The NHS does an incredible job of utilising fairly limited resources, but the fact is that resources are limited. This in itself can often have a particularly adverse effect on patient care and with it the morale and job satisfaction of those working in the NHS.

Combined with a downward pressure on nursing salaries at present, there are a number of reasons why NHS staff are choosing to consider work from within the private sector. Private sector salaries are very competitive these days and, whilst they don’t always offer all of the perks that the NHS can muster, they often have some of their own too. These can include significant financial welcome bonuses or “Golden Handshakes” and very advanced training and career development processes and opportunities. This latter aspect is in fact fast becoming a USP (Unique Selling Point) of the private healthcare sector as firms commit more and more investment to the upskilling and development of their valued staff.

For someone who has worked within the NHS for a number of years, the prospect of leaving the NHS can be a particularly daunting prospect and one that can appear to be a risk. For those that are in this position, it is particularly important to find a recruitment consultancy that they can trust, such that they can have a confidential and non-committed discussion and gain a better understanding of what is on offer, how it might compare and what the risks might actually be.

The NHS has its own unique benefits and has offered ideal employment to millions. But it doesn’t have all answers for all people and others will find that their career would be greatly enhanced by a period in the private sector. Appoint Group always welcome enquiries, however non-committal, so please feel free to call our friendly team, where we can introduce you to someone who specialises in your own specific clinical area.


Simon Berry

Founder and Managing Director

Appoint Group

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