- Provide advice and support to NHS service users and their families/carers
- You'll need to be calm, understanding and able to explain complex information clearly
- Progress to lead a team of advisers and volunteers
As a patient advisor or PALS officer, you'll be a point of contact for patients, their families and carers. You'll help with any questions or concerns they have about their care.
- Working with staff, managers and support groups to find ways to solve problems
- Helping patients understand the NHS complaints procedure
- Managing complaints
- Telling patients and the public how they can get involved in their own healthcare and with local NHS services
- Listening to patients' concerns, suggestions and experiences and raising these with people who design and manage services
- Providing information about how to get independent help with a complaint
- Supervising and coordinating PALS volunteers
You could work in the community, or in an NHS or private hospital. Your working environment might be emotionally demanding.
For this role, you'll need customer service skills, knowledge of psychology, sensitivity and understanding, patience in stressful situations, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure, thoroughness and attention to detail, counselling skills, and the ability to work on your own.
You can apply directly for this role if you have a good general standard of education (GCSEs with grades 9 to 4 or A* to C) including English and maths. Previous experience in a customer care or mediation role, including dealing with complaints would also be preferred.
Some NHS organisations might want you to have a degree, and other employers might want you to have some working knowledge of the NHS. A background in a health profession such as nursing could be useful, or in a background such as advice, advocacy and counselling.
You could get some relevant skills needed by doing a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Customer Service.
A common entry route is through volunteering, particularly with the NHS.
You may be able to start out as a patient advice and liaison service (PALS) secretary or administrator and work your way up to PALS officer.
With experience and possibly further study, you could progress to senior PALS officer or PALS service manager.