Administration and Business Support

Administrative Assistants are essential to the smooth running of the NHS in Scotland. They work closely with clinical and business teams in a range of activities, such as arranging meetings or creating and maintaining documents and records.

Administrative Assistants are sometimes known as Office Administrators or Clerical Officers.

Ann: My name's Ann Gallagher. I'm a senior secretarial administrator and I work for Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

Tracy: My name's Tracy Clark. I'm a business support officer at Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership.

Tracy: So, the teams that are out in the community could be district nurses [or] health visitors and my role is to provide them with support, trying to take care of paperwork for them.

Ann: I mostly [look after] David Leese, the Chief Officer's diary. A lot of it is telephone calls, diary management [and] emails.

Ann: So, I came back to work part-time, after not working 9 years. I was out [in the] community. I worked in my local health centre, which you wouldn't have thought, part of the NHS, you would be doing. But, that was basically supporting district nurses, the health visitors and the general running of the health centre. And then from there, my role and my confidence and my skills [have] really grown and that's been 14 years from away back not working to working for the Chief Officer. I've learned so much along the way and it's all been supported through the NHS. For me, it's been great.

Tracy: The most rewarding part of my job is - I'm not a nurse. I can't provide that hands-on care. I was never going to be a nurse. It was never anything I was going to attempt to do. But, I enjoy the fact the job we do has an impact on patients in Renfrewshire. Without the work we put in, it wouldn't allow the other staff to be able to provide the care. So, it's my way of feeling as though I'm part of something - providing a part of healthcare. So, I think that's the most rewarding part from me.

Ann: I enjoy working in this office.

Tracy: Yes, there's a big part of it that your colleagues can make your day. So, we all work very well [together] in the office.

Ann: We support each other as well, don't we? Not just with work, but personally.

Tracy: Yes.

Working as an Administrative Assistant, you may be based in a clinical department or business function in any of the NHSScotland Boards. These include:

  • hospital wards
  • occupational health departments
  • health centres
  • specialist departments or clinics
  • NHSScotland board headquarters

You would carry out clerical and other duties to support the department you work in.

Typical tasks of an Administrative Assistant include:

  • word processing and dealing with correspondence
  • using office equipment like photocopiers, printers and other devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets
  • booking patients in for appointments
  • dealing with incoming and outgoing post
  • keeping patient records, filing, photocopying and data entry
  • ordering stationery
  • handling phone calls, emails and social media enquiries
  • help to cover a reception desk/area
  • making travel bookings for staff

Useful skills include:

  • good IT skills
  • excellent communications skills
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • good level of plain English, spelling and grammar
  • good time management skills
  • strong organisational skills

Useful abilities include:

  • the ability to work to deadlines
  • tact and discretion
  • the ability to work on own initiative
  • the ability to prioritise tasks and workload

Administrative Assistants are likely to need a good standard of English and Maths. Some office experience and basic IT skills with word processing are useful skills to have for administration roles.

The specific entry requirements will depend on the role. The qualifications asked for may also vary depending on the recruiting NHSScotland Board. You are advised to contact each individual Board to find out its specific entry requirements.

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

Modern Apprenticeships in Business and Administration at SCQF Level 6, and Modern Apprenticeships in Management at SCQF Level 7, SCQF Level 9 and SCQF Level 11 are frameworks for people interested in working in business and administration or customer services. Find out more about these Modern Apprenticeships on the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) website:

Healthcare Support (Non-clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is another framework for people interested in working in a healthcare setting in a non-clinical support role. For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

Contact your local Board to find out if these Modern Apprenticeships are available in your area.

You will be encouraged to develop your career in NHSScotland and you will be given the training you need for the job including:

  • an introduction to the department and its procedures
  • health and safety
  • risk management

During your career, you may have the opportunity to study for additional qualifications, such as:

Look on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website to find the full range of qualifications on offer for staff working in business, administration, IT, finance and medical records.

Career pathways

Gaining new qualifications will help your career prospects, leading to more senior roles with a greater level of responsibility.

It may be possible through further training to progress to a supervisory or even management role such as an Office Manager or Team Leader. Service Managers may work towards a Masters in Business Administration at SCQF Level 11.

Learn more about the NHSScotland Education Pathways for Business and Administration.

Business and Administration staff can join the following organisations: 

The Institute of Legal Secretaries & PAs (ILSPA)

ILSPA is professional body for legal secretaries and personal assistants working throughout the UK, providing professional development and courses. Find out more on the ILSPA website.

The Skills Council for Administration (Skills CFA)

Skills CFA is a registered charity promoting skills and qualifications for businesses and those working in business and administration roles. Find out more on the Skills CFA website.

The Institute of Administrative Management (IAM)

IAM is the professional body and UK government-recognised awarding body offering qualifications in Administrative Management. Find out more on the IAM website.

Institute of Health Records and Information Management (IHRIM)

IHRIM is the professional organisation and educational body in the UK for people working in health informatics, including health records, clinical coding, and information governance. Find out more on the IHRIM website.