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How to… identify nursing opportunities outside of the NHS

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In healthcare, the independent sector refers to private and voluntary providers, and includes not-for-profit service providers, such as social enterprises. Susan Hughes of the Health Learning and Skills Advice Line discusses the options

The number of independent sector healthcare providers delivering NHS-commissioned services has widened dramatically in recent years. This is due in part to changes in commissioning that allow non-NHS providers to compete for NHS service contracts.

The independent sector also operates apart from the NHS, providing services for private patients, insurance companies and occupational health schemes.

Just a few examples of job roles in the independent sector include:

  • Admiral nurses – registered mental health nurses who have additional experience in working with dementia
  • In-flight nurses – who oversee the safe repatriation of patients via airline travel
  • McMillan nurses – who provide expert information, advice and support to improve the lives of people with cancer
  • Nurse Advisors in the pharmaceutical industry
  • Palliative Care Nurse Specialists.

There are opportunities for nurses to work within the independent sector in the following areas:

  • acute hospitals
  • mental health hospitals
  • hospices
  • maternity hospitals
  • termination of pregnancy services
  • in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) services
  • dialysis services
  • endoscopy services
  • laser services
  • intense pulsed light source services

The independent sector frequently engages in partnership working with educational establishments, and can offer a variety of educational and training facilities for staff.

For any nurse considering working in the independent sector, it is worth bearing in mind that organisations often provide extensive training for staff and there are opportunities for nurses to make real progress within their profession. The sector employs highly skilled nurses and can offer opportunities to become specialist.

For details of opportunities for nurses in the independent sector, contact providers direct, or look for jobs on the following websites:

Skills for Health, the Sector Skills Council for the healthcare sector, has produced a free guide to working in the independent sector.

Run by the Careers Advice Service and sponsored by NHS Careers and Skills for Health, the Health Learning and Skills Advice Line provides careers information, advice and guidance to support people working in healthcare. The friendly, trained career coaches can also give you constructive feedback on your CV and help assess your skills.

For a free, confidential discussion about your career, call freephone 0800 150 850 from 8am to 10pm, seven days a week.

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