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Healthcare Mythbusting #1 – Joining the Private Sector

As a specialist healthcare headhunting firm, we often speak to candidates who are considering leaving, or have recently left, the public sector to work privately and many more who straddle both – more on that later – and we often hear a lot of the same fears and concerns about the industry. The vast majority of healthcare professionals who train in the UK will start their careers in the NHS, delivering care at a public hospital. When jobs become available in the private sector, some people fear they will be ‘abandoning’ the service, that they will lose job security, or that it will hinder their career. As is often the case, a lot of these narratives are based on misunderstandings of how the industry works, and others are just conjecture and rumour. Here are a few of the most common myths we hear about moving to the private sector, and the reality behind them.

Private Hospitals Only Treat Rich People

First off, it’s a myth that it’s a binary choice between the two. Most private hospitals and clinics offer at least some of their services to NHS patients, so you’re rarely going to have to give up caring for NHS patients entirely. Throughout the pandemic, private hospitals have played a vital role in easing the strain on the NHS, meaning that for the last two years, even the largest independent hospitals have been treating at least as many NHS patients as they are self-paying and insured. As the need for emergency covid wards wanes, there’s still a tremendous backlog on the NHS, especially for surgical procedures, so it’s likely that the private sector will play a key role in delivering NHS services for some time.

There’s no job security

While things in the private sector do work a little differently from the civil service, you may be surprised by how many things are similar. One of these is that, generally, healthcare professionals in the private sector still enjoy great job security. This is in no small part due to the scarcity of qualified people to fill roles, across both public and private sectors. Private healthcare providers often have stringent hiring standards, but permanent contracts are still the norm, and once hired you enjoy considerable job security.

There are Fewer Opportunities to Advance

Another common myth we hear about the private sector is that only the very best, world-renowned professionals have a chance of promotion. In reality, private healthcare providers in the UK offer structured career plans similar to the NHS. Any good employer should recognise and support your career goals but private healthcare providers, in particular, have an interest in offering development opportunities that mirror or exceed what’s available in the public sector, to retain the talent they need. What’s more, many private hospitals will employ consultants and senior staff who are world-leaders in their speciality, which means you’ll have the opportunity to work with and learn from these experts.

Working in the Private Sector is More Stressful

Every hospital in the UK, both NHS and private, has very strict standards of care, and almost all jobs in the industry require high levels of dedication and resilience. That said, moving to the private sector can often do wonders for your work-life balance. All providers and hospitals will vary slightly but, in general, the private sector has a much better carer-to-patient ratio, less rigidity and better work-life balance. Many of the UK’s leading private hospitals offer significant flexibility around your contracted hours, and benefits packages often include generous leave allowances, travel expenses and sabbaticals.

Working in the private sector isn’t for everyone, and the NHS still has many great benefits as an employer. But healthcare professionals looking to work in smaller, more intimate settings, or specialise in niche fields often find what they’re looking for in private hospitals, or by splitting their time between the two.

If you work in healthcare and want to find out if Stroud Resourcing can help you find your dream job, call one of our expert consultants on 01904 239910 or send your CV to info@stroudresourcing.co.uk

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