So, you want my job? Comms Officer for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

PRWeek takes a sidelong look at recruitment in public sector comms. Do you fancy Ashley Toon's role as comms officer for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust?

No questions? Really? Don't say that in the interview, warns Ashely Toon
No questions? Really? Don't say that in the interview, warns Ashely Toon
Ashley Toon

Communications Officer for Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust 

Starting salary/salary band for the job? 
Ranging between £19k to £28k – and we really do work hard for every penny.

What qualifications do you need?
Most NHS trusts request a relevant degree. To progress further in a comms role I would suggest that a professional qualification in a relevant subject is a must. The CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing was a game-changer for me. 

What level of experience do you need?
The ability to think strategically and ethically about how great PR ideas can be implemented most effectively is crucial. You will need experience of a broad skillset – from crisis communications, media relations and stakeholder analysis to content creation, photo/video editing and graphic design. And, of course, the capability to keep calm and deliver whilst under pressure.  

Is previous experience in a public sector comms role necessary/useful?
The NHS is a complex organisation. But if you’re a very quick learner with a person-centred approach and an interest and passion for the NHS – and have heaps of creative campaign ideas on top – I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

What are the main day-to-day challenges?
Keeping everyone informed about the latest developments and wider breaking news through our staff communication channels, social media, engagement with local communities and providing information to the media – both proactively and reactively. The ‘to-do’ list is lengthy, with a vast amount of competing priorities, plus the increasing expectation to be ‘always on’.

What is the best part of the job?
Hearing the truly inspiring recovery stories of our patients and working for an organisation that makes life-changing differences to people.

What is the most unusual fact you know as a result of this job? 
One in three of the UK’s babies will develop dementia in the course of their lifetime.

If you get an interview, do say?
"I’d like to hit the ground running. How can I bring myself up-to-speed with the Trust’s current challenges?" 

If you get an interview, don’t say?
"I don’t have any questions" – Come on, seriously!? Comms guys always have questions. It’s what we do best.

If you’re good at this job you might also be well-suited to?
Fire fighting – trust me, NHS Comms will fully prepare you.

• Click here to subscribe to the new FREE public sector bulletin to receive dedicated public sector news, features and comment straight to your inbox.
If you wish to submit a news, comment, case study or analysis idea for the new public sector bulletin, please email

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in