NHS Trainees

Thinking about a career in NHS Finance?

Further Information to get you started:

With a £120 billion plus annual NHS budget, strong financial management is essential to ensure that this public money is effectively spent on the nation’s health. There are over 19000 people working in NHS Finance across the UK.*  With demand for health services and new treatment options ever increasing, achieving best value for patients involves detailed calculations. Often working closely with medical staff, finance people in the NHS have a strong sense of making a real difference and helping others. To be successful you do not need to be a mathematical genius but you do need to be numerate, able to assimilate information and work well with others. The work is challenging but enormously rewarding.

The NHS has an outstanding track record for developing finance staff. Across the UK, 56% of NHS finance staff have or are studying for a formal finance qualification.* The NHS has long had an excellent graduate trainee scheme but also apprenticeship routes too. Apart from support for studying the formal accountancy exams, ongoing personal development is a high priority. NHS Finance has a strong professional body, the HFMA which provides further support and networking. So successful is this wide ranging development, a large number progress to senior management and Board level positions.

Many of the finance jobs are in NHS Trusts which each provide specific services for a particular geographical area or specialised function. Other areas of opportunity exist within CCGs which focus on planning services across an area.  Generally, there is continual demand for good people at trainee level and as you build your abilities, so the demand for your skills increases, especially given that there are acute shortages of talent for certain roles requiring NHS knowledge.

* Source HFMA Survey 13.04.2016

For further information on these exciting career options, have a look at the following:

  • NHS Jobs is the dedicated online recruitment service for the NHS and other health related organisations. The site receives around 20,000 adverts every month, therefore, if you are looking for a career in the NHS or in a health related organisation this site is essential viewing https://www.jobs.nhs.uk
  • The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme has been running since 1956. It has produced many inspirational leaders, including Sir David Nicholson, former Chief Executive of the NHS. And it’s created lots of life defining opportunities. This could be the beginning of yours. http://www.nhsgraduates.co.uk
  • Independent Overview of the Scheme.  https://www.graduate-jobs.com/scheme/nhs
  • Health Careers is the information service about the range of 350 or so careers available in health.  https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk
  • They are part of Health Education England and their aim is to support people in education and at all stages of their career to discover more about the health roles that are available, and how to get in and get on.
  • Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) is the professional body for the healthcare finance profession where members get practical resources, insightful thought leadership, support with personal growth and CPD and access to an influential network. They seek to represent, support and provide high quality, independent and objective advice to thier members and the wider healthcare community.  https://www.hfma.org.uk


The NHS Skills Development Network operates across NHS organisations in England. Its remit is to provide the infrastructure for improving leadership and professional development skills, raising standards and sharing best practice through economy-wide learning.  The Skills Development Network uses a dedicated website, www.skillsdevelopmentnetwork.com, to publicise and support its work.  The website is the primary source of information for all staff in providing resources for personal and organisational development.

As part of Health Education England (HEE), the NHS Leadership Academy’s philosophy is simple – great leadership development improves leadership behaviours and skills. Better leadership leads to better patient care, experience and outcomes. Their purpose is to work with their partners to deliver excellent leadership across the NHS to have a direct impact on patient care. They offer a range of tools, models, programmes and expertise to support individuals, organisations and local partners to develop leaders, celebrating and sharing where outstanding leadership makes a real difference.  http://www.leadershipacademy.nhs.uk

NHS Wales Finance Academy their ambition is to create a finance function that is “Best suited to Wales but comparable with the best anywhere”.  Their vision for NHS Wales is Finance Adding Value, with four themes – People, Innovation and Partnership and Excellence.  http://www.financeacademy.wales.nhs.uk

NHS Scotland offers a huge range of exciting and challenging opportunities for people who are passionate about making a difference. 162,192 people are employed by NHSScotland (June 2017). They work across 14 territorial NHS Boards, seven Special NHS Boards and one public health body. Each board is supported by the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates.  Increasingly the workforce in NHSScotland is based outside traditional hospital settings, working instead in GP surgeries, clinics and health centres in the community; and with partner organisations, local authorities and the Scottish Government.  http://www.careers.nhs.scot

Health & Social Care Northern Ireland each Trust is committed to providing appropriate learning and development opportunities to all staff. HSC training is designed to equip employees with the skills and knowledge they need to undertake their jobs to the highest standard while developing themselves to progress in their careers.  https://www.hscrecruit.com

Recognised Finance Qualifications

Recognised Finance Qualifications >

  • The Association of Accounting Technicians, or AAT, is a UK qualification and typically undertaken by those who do not have finance degrees already. https://www.aat.org.uk

If you have a degree or AAT qualification, there are 4 different accountancy qualifications recognised in the NHS

  • The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy or CIPFA is the leading accountancy body for the public services providing education and training in accountancy and financial management. www.cipfa.org

  • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants or ACCA is the global professional accounting body offering the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification. http://www.accaglobal.com

  • The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants or CIMA  is the world's largest professional body of management accountants https://www.cimaglobal.com

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) or ACA, the conventional route to qualifying as an ACA is through a 3-year training contract with an ICAEW accredited firm after which you could then apply to join the NHS as a qualified accountant.

Let’s now take a look at the various finance job vacancies that commonly come up within the NHS and the skills, experience and qualifications you will need to be a relevant and potentially successful candidate.

Finance Opportunites in the NHS

Key Positions within the Finance Team

High calibre candidates are always sought to strengthen teams and usually offer excellent development and progression prospects. Vacancies that we typically see coming up include:

Management Accountant

Salary range: £19,217 – £41,373 p.a.

Much of the time of a Management Accountant will be spent working with operational budget holders to understand their positions and to support them with areas which need to be changed or adapted. The post typically carries study support for achieving a CCAB accounting qualification.

Cost Accountant

Salary range: £26,302 – £48,034 p.a.

A Cost Accountand reports to the Head of Costing. The post generally has a wide remit, supporting the production of annual integrated reference costs and education costing returns, cluster based tariff reports for CCGs, and the implementation of PLICS (Patient Level Information Costing). The post generally requires individuals that are capable of managing complex data sets and to be a least part-qualified to CCAB level or equivalent.

Assistant Financial Accountant

Salary range: £21,909 – £35,225 p.a.

This role assists in the completion of the Trust’s monthly, quarterly and annual NHSiMonitor returns and the control of the Trust’s Balance Sheet ensuring control accounts are reconciled. The Assistant Financial Accountant will also plan, organise and supervise the Capital, Charitable Accounting and System Support section.

Financial Systems Manager

Salary range: £31,383 – £48,034 p.a.

The Finance Systems Manager provides application support for the Finance Department and ensures the integrity of finance systems coding structure. In addition, the post holder's duties will include:

  • Developing and maintaining reporting software and data repository to ensure quality information is delivered to users through a range of media, in accordance with departmental timetables or user requirements
  • Discussing information needs with finance managers, providing advice and guidance on their requirements and translate these requests into user friendly reports to enable appropriate decision making
  • Evaluating the departments requirements for improving business processes, then designing and developing applications and reports (e.g. Qlikview, Access Database and Excel) to meet those requirements
Finance Manager

Salary range: £26,302 - £57,640 p.a.

A Finance Manager's responsibilities will often entail:

  • Managing a small team of accountants
  • Providing accurate financial management information and financial analysis to support the organisation's national and local priorities
  • Ensuring the completeness & accuracy of the monthly management accounts and packs
  • Providing detailed management information to key directorates, finance & non-finance stakeholders
  • Monthly reporting, variance analysis, budgeting and forecasting

Required Qualifications & Experience:

  • CCAB qualified or equivalent
  • Excel skills and strong background of delivering meaningful/ insightful financial analysis
  • Strong communication & relationship building skills
  • Proven track record of working within a large organisation
Contracts Analyst

Salary range: £26,302 - £41,373 p.a.

The Contracts Analyst provides contract monitoring reports, assists in the monitoring of PbR and non PbR contract activity, and supports the negotiation and monitoring of contracts to secure maximum income for the Trust. The post holder works closely with other members of the team to ensure that all Income reconciles correctly and lead on the challenge process ensuring any are responded to within agreed timescales.

Costing Manager

Salary range: £31,383 – 48,034 p.a.

The post of Costing Manager covers a wide remit.

The duties of Costing Manager includes managing highly complex and sensitive aspects of financial work within the organisation and working with other professionals at a senior level both within the organisation and externally.

The job will also include the need to clearly explain financial concepts to non-financial staff at all levels within the organisation so that services fully understand the information they are given.

Senior Financial Accountant

Salary range: £31,383 – £57,640 p.a.

The Senior Financial Accountant supports the Head of Financial Control throughout the year-end process. The role includes:

  • Compiling the Financial Control sections of the monthly board, Finance and Audit Committee papers
  • Leading on the Balance Sheet, ensuring control accounts are reconciled and reviewed promptly and liaising with other departments within Finance
  • Providing assurance on the material accuracy of its assets, liabilities and reported position
  • Managing and provide effective leadership to treasury management (accounts receivable and cash management), accounts payable, capital and Charitable Funds
  • Promoting a positive finance staff development culture and ensuring compliance with national and Trust strategies

Senior Management Positions

Many of the proposed changes within the NHS involve Boards overseeing bigger or multiple organisations.
In order to do so effectively, the NHS will need to expand senior management teams, so more opportunities at this level are inevitable.

Typical vacancies and posts include:

Head of Procurement

Salary range: £46,625 - £82,434 p.a.

Head of Procurement supports the Associate Director of Procurement in managing operational work streams, play a key role in the Trust’s Procurement modernisation plans and raising the functional maturity of the Procurement team.

Through optimised category management and well organised business processes, Head of Procurement supports the delivery of cash releasing savings attributed to medical and non-medical spend. Suitable candidates for the role will have expert knowledge and experience in Procurement and management of commercial contract life-cycles.

The post holder will also have demonstrable experience in leading improvement and transformation projects, with a track record of negotiating contracts and managing competitive tender processes with a working knowledge of EU Regulations.

Head of Contracts & Income

Salary range: £46,625 - £68,484 p.a.

The key purpose of the role of Head of Contracts & Income is to take the lead in maximising the income of the Trust through supporting contract negotiations with commissioners and ensuring that all potential income is identified and billed.

The post holder will also be responsible for accurate income reporting and forecasting which is crucial to the strategic decision making within a Trust. This role requires strong understanding of income and expenditure.

Head of Treasury

Salary range: £40,028 – £57,640 p.a.

The role of Head of Treasury is to provide in depth specialist knowledge of the processes available to an NHS Foundation Trust for investment, including the range of options set out within the Trust, with sufficient understanding to be able to prepare recommendation for the optimum courses of action, spreading risk while maximising returns.

In addition, the post holder will also maintain the banking, maximise the return on Trust temporary cash balances, ensure that all day-today receipts and payments are managed strictly in accordance with the Trust’s financial procedures and follow best practice for managing all bank and cash payments.

Head of Financial Control

Salary range: £46,625 – £82,434 p.a.

The Head of Financial Control manages and provides effective leadership to all areas i.e. technical accounting, treasury management (accounts receivable and cash management), accounts payable, capital and payroll. The post holder's role often includes:

  • Promoting a positive finance staff development culture and ensure compliance with national and Trust strategies
  • Formulating plans to respond to changes in services and/or financial regime that may impact on the department and Trust (or other organisations where a service is provided)
  • Supporting and advising the Director of Finance where appropriate
  • Ensuring existing Trust and national policies are implemented effectively and to monitor their compliance
  • Advising on the impact of any changes in policy that may be required and to implement any changes within the department and Trust (or other organisations where a service is provided)
Divisional Finance Manager

Salary range: £40,028 – 68,484 p.a.

The Divisional Finance Manager works alongside the Divisional Director and Director of Operations in providing overall leadership and direction to the Division, comprising a range of Clinical Specialties.

The post-holder will have influence on strategic decision making within the Trust through the provision of business and financial advice. He/She will also be responsible for the management of the Divisional Finance Team, including staff development and all performance and disciplinary issues; support the development of the Trust’s Local Delivery Plans (LDPs) with commissioners, and identify and report on efficiency savings and the development of business cases.

Assistant Director of Finance - Financial Management

Salary range: £56,104 - £99,437 p.a.

The Assistant Director of Finance-Financial Management is responsible for the provision of timely and reliable financial management information and advice to the organisation.

The post holder is also responsible for the management and development of the Financial Management team, including Finance Managers and Assistant Finance Managers, which support the Trust’s individual Business Units.

This role requires strong financial management and reporting skills, with the ability to communicate effectively with senior managers and clinicians both within the Trust and externally.

Assistant Director of Finance for Reporting & Pricing

Salary range: £56,104 – 82,434 p.a.

This role will require the following fundamental tasks:

  • Take full responsibility for the pricing, reporting and forecasting of NHS clinical income, primarily in relation to service level agreements with local commissioners
  • Play a key role in contract negotiations with commissioners, in order to optimise the level of income due to the Trust under PbR and other contract rules
  • Develop reporting to ensure accurate attribution of income and expenditure to Business Units
  • This role requires excellent spreadsheet and modelling skills, plus the ability to communicate effectively with senior managers and clinicians both within the Trust and with external commissioners
Financial Controller

Salary range: £40,028 – £82,434 p.a.

The Financial Controller's key responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring that all statutory accounts and returns are prepared within set timescales
  • Meeting all legal requirements
  • Ensuring all working papers are produced to a high professional standard
  • Ensuring that a robust plan is in place for the financial accounting timetable
  • Overseeing management of cash and working capital and assist with internal reporting in respect of the Trust’s capital programme and charitable funds
  • Operational responsibility for the day to day management of the financial accounts team
  • Being innovative by working with the team to identify and implement improvements to enhance the efficiency of the department
Associate Director of Finance

Salary range: £56,104 – £99,437 p.a.

The post holder will be primarily responsible for Financial Services, Financial Management, Planning and Reporting with a particular responsibility for Statutory Accounts, Charitable Funds, Annual Planning, Long Term Financial Modelling, Capital Planning and Financial Management.

The Associate Director of Finance will effectively manage and lead multiple teams. As an experienced and inspirational leader, the post holder will set and manage priorities, ensuring staff meet deadlines, as well as ensuring staff continuing professional development.

Regional Head of Finance

Salary range: £46,625 – 82,434 p.a.

With the ability to think strategically, the Regional Head of Finance influences the national agenda and provides national project support, understanding, formulating and implementing policy.

The post holder will be fully involved in consultations, working and policy development groups, acting as a conduit for the Secretary of State in disseminating policy and enabling its effective application.

Initiatives include developing structures, processes and communications, moving value to the centre of the agenda and improving decision making, for example, around the allocation of flexible funding.

Deputy Director of Finance

Salary range: £68,582 - £100,000 p.a.

In assisting the Operational Finance Director, the Deputy Director of Finance will include:

  • Delivery of the monthly and annual accounts to the highest professional standards and integrated with the forecasting process
  • Change leadership within Finance and the Trust, specifically the identification and implementation of appropriate best practices, the replacement of the current financial system and support for the alignment of services across Partners and other NHS bodies
  • Lead the development and maintenance of improved cash management
  • Improve balance sheet management and integrate with the development of Return on Capital measures
Operational Finance Director

Salary range: £98,000 - £115,000 p.a.

The Director of Operational Finance supports the Trust in delivering a world class finance function and is a key member of the Trusts leadership team. The role includes:

  • Working across the peer group and representing the interests of the Finance Directorate at the Trust’s Operational Management Board
  • Providing leadership and direction to the Finance Department and be accountable for overall performance
  • Fully utilising past experience to drive continuous improvement, promote new ideas and initiatives, leading others through the journey to a sustainable future

This role is ideal for experienced or aspiring Directors/Deputies who are looking to further their careers at a large Acute Trust.

Chief Finance Officer

Salary range: £100,000 - £120,000 p.a.

The role of Chief Finance Officer focuses on the commissioning of health services with core duties that include:

  • Supervising the financial and accounting systems for the CCG and advising on the best possible stewardship of public money
  • Advising the governing body on the effective, efficient and economic use of its allocation, meeting financial targets and duties
  • Developing and implementing the medium term financial plans
Finance Director

Salary range: £100,000 - £140,000 p.a.

A Finance Director's duties will typically include:

  • Influencing the Trust’s strategic vision, development of objectives, progress towards agreed targets, optimum use of resources and delivery of services, providing the very best care for each patient, on every occasion
  • Providing expert advice and accurate, timely reporting on all financial issues
  • Guiding the Board of Directors and Executive team in ensuring the achievements of targets
  • Representing the Trust externally and play a key role in providing corporate leadership, supporting the development of effective working relationships within the Trust, across the wider health community and with other partners, promoting a culture that is progressive and inclusive
  • Sharing responsibility for the financial probity of the Trust, the post holder will ensure adherence to the Standing Financial Instructions management of business and financial risk, through effective financial policies, systems and procedures
  • Leading and develop the highly committed Finance and IMT teams, ensuring that they contribute fully to all of the Trust’s activities and that systems are fit for purpose
  • Working in conjunction with fellow Directors to develop the internal strategic ‘Quality, Innovation, Productivity and Prevention’ framework, utilising clearly defined clinical and business management frameworks within which clinical leaders and managers can improve the performance of their services
  • Being responsible for the delivery of the Trust’s Finance strategies in achieving overall objectives including developing the Cost Improvement Programme, devising investment plans and producing financial plans for capital programme
  • Providing strategic leadership around preparations to become a Foundation Trust and to ensure that the Trusts financial systems are robust and fit for purpose
  • Leading the review, development and implementation of the Trust’s IM&T Strategy, to provide for each person a comprehensive electronic record for their health and social care
Accountable Officer

Salary range: £120,000 - £130,000 p.a.

Leading a commissioning organisation that decides on the health services for local populations, the key focus areas for this role often include:

  • Setting and developing the culture of the organisation
  • Developing a clear and compelling organisational narrative that describes the future strategy of the CCG and communicate this to a wide range of audiences
  • Providing dynamic leadership to the CCG Governing Body, senior management and all CCG members
  • Create a compelling vision for the future and communicate this within and across organisations
  • Be a strong communicator
  • The role will require the post holder to develop and foster collaborative and effective whole system partnership working across health and social care providers, commissioners, Local Authorities and other NHS and non-NHS organisations and stakeholders