Communications and Public Relations staff

Communications and Public Relations (PR) staff help to make sure people can engage and interact with NHSScotland organisations, including local Health Boards and public health bodies.

Communications Officer is a broad job title given to staff working in communications teams within NHSScotland. Other related job titles include:

  • Communication and Engagement Officer
  • Communications Manager
  • Head of Communications and Engagement

Working as a Communications Officer, you would use various kinds of media to engage with internal and external audiences. This could include press releases, websites, paper publications, events, ad campaigns, TV and radio.

In a larger organisation, you would work as part of a team, with Senior Communications Officers and Communications Managers. In smaller organisations, you may have a related role, such as Information Officer, Corporate Affairs Officer or Patient and Public Involvement Officer.

Some of the usual duties of a communications officer include:

  • producing high-quality patient information
  • writing articles for staff magazines
  • producing video and taking photos
  • managing social media accounts and campaigns
  • creating graphics for print or online
  • typesetting reports
  • updating or creating information on the staff intranet and external websites
  • commissioning printing or advertising with external printers or contractors
  • dealing with enquiries from journalists and writing press releases
  • engaging in local health campaigns and events

Senior Communications staff will provide media training to Board Members and Chief Executives and give advice about dealing with the press. They may also write speeches for Directors and Senior Executives.

The skills required for Communications and Public Relations staff will depend on the specific role. However, typical skills required include:

  • good IT skills
  • excellent written and oral communication skills
  • confident telephone skills
  • excellent presentation skills
  • creativity
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • 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
  • the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines
  • the ability to work with all kinds of people

Although there is no set entry route for Communications Officers, they will usually have a relevant qualification and some experience through paid or voluntary work.

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.

A Modern Apprenticeships in Creative and Digital Media at SCQF Level 6 is a framework for people interested in working in creative industries, including digital communication.

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
  • IT training
  • 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 a Communications Manager or Head of Communications and Engagement.

As a senior member of staff you may also be required to hold, or be prepared to work towards qualifications awarded by the following organisations:

  • Communications Advertising & Marketing Education Foundation Ltd
  • the Chartered Institute of Public Relations
  • the Public Relations Consultants Association
  • the Association of Healthcare Communications and Marketing

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

Communications staff can join the following organisations:

The Association for Healthcare Communications and Marketing (AHCM)

The AHCM is an independent network for people working in healthcare communications, public engagement and marketing for the NHS. Find out more on the AHCM website

Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA)

The PRCA was founded in 1969 to promote all aspects of public relations and other communications work, by supporting communications professionals and organisations. Find out more on the PRCA website.

Communication Advertising and Marketing Education Foundation Limited (CAM)

CAM supports the marketing communication industries by developing qualifications which specialise in different areas, such as Digital Campaign Planning and Integrated Media and Branding. All CAM Foundation qualifications are awarded by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR)

CIPR is an organisation which represents the public relations profession in the UK. They promote education, research and adherence to a code of conduct, allowing members to enhance their skills and professionalism. Find out more on the CIPR website.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM)

CIM is a professional body which supports, represents and develops individuals, teams and leaders working in the marketing industry in the UK. It also offers training and qualifications in Marketing and related subjects. Find out more on the CIM website.