Patient advice and liaison service (PALS) officers give support, advice and information about NHS services.
Salary range: £21,000 to £30,000
How to become a patient advice and liaison service officer
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You could get some of the skills you need for this job by doing a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Customer Service. This will be useful for dealing with complaints and mediation work.
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You may be able to start as a patient advice and liaison service (PALS) secretary or administrator and work your way up to PALS officer.
Volunteering and experience
A common entry route is through volunteering, particularly within the NHS. Some patient advice and liaison services are staffed by a mix of paid staff and volunteers. Contact the voluntary services co-ordinator or manager at your local NHS authority or trust for further advice.
To apply directly to become a PALS officer jobs, you’ll need:
- a good general standard of education GCSEs (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
Some NHS organisations might want you to have a degree. Other employers may prefer you to have some working knowledge of the NHS. A background in a health profession such as nursing could be useful. Other relevant backgrounds are advice, advocacy and counselling.
You can find out more about working in healthcare from Health Careers.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- customer service skills
- knowledge of psychology
- sensitivity and understanding
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- counselling skills including active listening and a non-judgemental approach
- the ability to work on your own
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day duties could include:
- 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 may be emotionally demanding.
Career path and progression
With experience and possibly further study, you could progress to senior PALS officer or PALS service manager.