[Skip to content]

Print this page

Additional clinical services

Clinical support staff work in a huge variety of different settings across the NHS. Their role is to assist healthcare professionals, sometimes - but not always - working alongside them. They might be based in a lab helping to diagnose different conditions; they might work in a hospital or clinic or visit patients in their own homes, assisting with treatment or providing general care.

As a clinical support worker, you’ll provide vital assistance to healthcare professionals in diagnosing, treating and caring for patients. Some roles involve close contact with patients, others not.

Roles in this area include:

Assistant dieticians

Working alongside a registered dietician, you will help to promote good nutrition. In hospital you will be supporting patients on special diets and in the community you’ll be involved in health education.

Assistant technical officers

Assistant technical officers support qualified healthcare scientists in using complex, specialist equipment to diagnose, measure and treat a wide range of different conditions, including heart and kidney disease and hearing and breathing problems.


Cardiographers operate the electrocardiograph (ECG) machines that monitor the functioning of a patient’s heart in order to diagnose or monitor a heart condition. You will fit electrodes to the patient's body, ensure that they are correctly connected to the machine, and then take readings.

Clinical support workers in dentistry

In this role, you will play a key part in helping the dental team to treat patients and provide advice. You will work under the supervision of a dentist and / or dental nurse. The job might involve mixing the materials that the dentist uses for filling teeth, assisting with x-rays and sterilising instruments and equipment.

Maternity support workers

This role will give you the chance to be involved in caring for women and their babies through the vital stages of pregnancy, childbirth and the first few days after the birth. In the labour ward, you will help midwives prepare instruments and equipment, and in a maternity ward you’ll assist with caring for mothers and new born babies.

Medical laboratory assistants

Medical laboratory assistants work in a wide range of different clinical areas, such as haematology (diseases of the blood); cytology (the structure of cells, including screening for certain cancers); and biochemistry (chemical reactions in the blood, such as those involved in kidney failure). You might make up chemical solutions, label and sort tissue samples, sterilise equipment and use a computer to analyse data and keep records.

Newborn hearing screeners

Newborn hearing screeners check very small babies’ hearing in order to identify any problems. You will use equipment linked to a computer that produces the results. The screener then ensures the information reaches the appropriate healthcare staff.

Occupational therapy assistants

Occupational therapy assistants help to support clients with physical, mental or social problems to cope with daily activities such as shopping or cooking a simple meal. You’ll play a key part in helping people to carry on leading independent lives in their own homes.

Physiotherapy assistants

In this role you will help qualified physiotherapists to rehabilitate patients after an injury, illness or disability. This might involve showing them how to use mobility aids, setting up equipment and working on exercises with them.


Phlebotomists take blood samples from patients who are being investigated for one of many different conditions or whose illness or treatment progress is being monitored. Working in a hospital or in a community clinic, you’ll also be responsible for labelling samples and ensuring they are delivered to the appropriate laboratory for analysis.

Podiatry assistants (chiropody or foot-care assistants)

Podiatry assistants give the more routine foot care and treatment under the supervision of a qualified podiatrist. This includes cutting toenails and applying dressings. You might also do some clerical work, such as booking appointments.

Radiography assistants (imaging support workers)

Working alongside qualified radiographers, you will use techniques such as ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computer-assisted tomography (CAT scans) as well as x-rays. You will help prepare patients for the procedure and ensure equipment is properly maintained.

Speech and language therapy assistant / bi-lingual co-worker

This role gives you the opportunity to assist a qualified therapist to treat patients with a range of different speech and language difficulties. You’ll help and encourage patients to carry out exercises, record their progress and liaise with the therapist about any changes to their treatment, as well as prepare equipment and possibly also make appointments.

Support time and recovery worker

Support, time and recovery workers (sometimes known as STR workers) work as part of a team providing mental health services, where they focus on the practical needs of service users.

Other professionals working alongside allied health professions

A range of therapy-related healthcare services are made available to NHS patients / service users. These services are provided by staff who are not regulated by the Health Professions Council (HPC) and include staff providing complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), counsellors, social workers and nutritionists.