For the women who need us most

For the women who need us most

I’m Werking On My…

I’m Werking On My…

The NHS versus the private sector: where should you work?
By Eva Millett

Strike action and pay cuts have made the debate between private and NHS healthcare a hot topic. So what’s the real deal?

If you’re training to be a doctor or nurse right now, you’re probably wondering if the NHS is still the best option. Let’s break down the real differences between working for the two. 

Take the recent demands from the Royal College of Nursing about pay rises of inflation plus five per-cent – nurses are fighting for the bare minimum. So what does the private sector have to offer? If you’re a newbie and dreaming of climbing the ladder, are there enough opportunities? Or do the stresses of the NHS outweigh your ambition?

Philippa Allison, 57, is a Specialist Nurse working for Derbyshire Community Health Services (DCHS). Her role as a community nurse is in tissue viability – the treatment of skin and wound care. Philippa did her nursing training in 1985, then worked as a Midwife from 1992 in the NHS, before moving to the private sector in 2006. She then moved back to the NHS as a community nurse in 2014 until now. 

Philippa and her husband Steve proudly posing when Philippa received her Queen's Nursing Award.
Philippa and her husband Steve proudly posing when Philippa received her Queen’s Nursing Award.

With 38 years experience under her belt in both the public and private sector, Philippa has seen changes made to both sectors first-hand. “The NHS provides a lot of training and continuing professional development,” says Philippa. “There’s more opportunities for promotion and a good variety of career options. 

“Also it’s got better pay structure and pension provision. There’s so many reasons why it’d be more appealing to new trainees. Particularly pay and progression wise.” 

If you’re a newly qualified nurse, opportunity to be promoted and a decent pay structure are two pretty key aspects when it comes to choosing your place of work. But the private sector does have it’s selling points too. 

Philippa worked in the Nuffield hospital as part of a private healthcare system for eight years as a Nurse. “Private generally has less complaints, who make a quicker smoother recovery,” says Philippa. 

“It’s true that it’s a nice working environment, there’s carpeted hospitals and private patient rooms. So the atmosphere is a lot more relaxed but patient care is still absolutely paramount.

“It’s generally better staffed and not as busy or chaotic as the NHS can be. Another thing is the hours. They’re a lot more flexible and because they struggle to hold onto nurses as well, the pay incentives are much better.” 

During the 80s, when Philippa first qualified, the wards were much busier with nurses, and not so heavy on clinical staff and managers.  

“There was less focus on looking after the mental health of staff back in the day. And some places are still criticised for not prioritising the mental health of their staff especially nurses. I’m really lucky because I work for a trust that’s marked as outstanding,” says Philippa. 

As a working Mum with two young children at the time, Philippa made the decision in 2014 to go back to the NHS working as a community nurse. “I went back to the NHS for purely pension reasons at the time,” says Philippa. 

“I liked private healthcare and didn’t want to go back to the high stress of working in the NHS. It was really just financial reasons. It took me a long time to settle back in to the pace of NHS work. But I’ve been back 10 years now, somehow. The job I have now is interesting and prestigious and it feels more reflective of my experience and skills set. So I wouldn’t change back now.” 

Philippa posing in her kitchen.
Philippa posing in her kitchen.

Philippa’s time working in the private sector allowed her to prioritise looking after her two daughters from better work flexibility, but this did sometimes mean weekend work. Consultants and surgeons who are free from NHS work over the weekends often means nurses are drafted in for these shifts. 

“You can get cancelled for shifts at the last minute if they don’t need you in private,” says Philippa. 

With a bank of experience, Philippa recommends that if you want a career, the NHS is best. “But if you want flexible hours to suit your own needs, private is what you should go for.”


🥼NHS vs Private Healthcare 🥼 People can be so polarised on the two sides of this argument 👀 But the reality is that we live in a world whether there is a need for BOTH services. I have had positive and negative experiences with both! I think its time for fundamental reform to the NHS and the inner workings but also to look at how do we effectively integrate private healthcare more? What do you think? Comment below! #nhs #private #privatehealthcare #gps #juniordoctor #nurses #publicservice #clinic

♬ original sound – The Chronic Illness Coach
Users such as @thechronicillnesscoach_ taking to Tik Tok to tap into the discussion about the NHS versus private.

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