Senior external affairs officer

Play a key role in informing and influencing national policy affecting the NHS, including at the highest levels of Government and in Parliament.
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  • London

  • Permanent, full time.

  • £32,045 - £33,107.50 including London weighting allowance and on call allowance.

We would love to hear from you if you have:

  • At least three years’ experience of having worked in a public affairs role and/or a parliamentary environment, with an understanding of the health and care sector in England
  • Contributed to parliamentary and stakeholder engagement plans and campaigns that meet set objectives. 
  • Supported positive relationships with MPs, government officials and other key decision makers and influencers.
  • Excellent written and oral communications skills, political awareness, and can interpret policy at pace.

About the role

Reporting to the External Affairs Manager (Public Affairs), you will be responsible for supporting our public affairs work, ensuring we are abreast of key political and stakeholder developments and that we maintain strong relationships with a broad range of bodies and individuals at the highest levels. This includes those across Government and Parliament, the Arm’s Length Bodies, professional representative organisations, patient groups, and think tanks.

You will play a key role in supporting our external monitoring activities, as well as in drafting briefings for the chief executive, chair and other senior colleagues on emerging developments and ahead of engagement opportunities. These could include appearances before parliamentary committees; our involvement in the annual political party conferences; and, for meetings and other events with MPs, government officials and other partners, in collaboration with colleagues.

You will have opportunities to support our major campaigns and communications activities for some of the coalitions that we host, in addition to contributing to the delivery and coordination of broader communications plans. Also, you will support the drafting, scheduling and issuing of correspondence to our strategic partners on a range of matters, including our corporate mailouts and letters (for example, in support of our publications and announcements, our invitations to external events, and to relay feedback raised by our members to key decision-makers), using your political, stakeholder and healthcare policy insight.

The post is part of the external affairs unit, which sits within our communications and membership operations directorate. The external affairs unit is responsible for managing our public profile, member communications and strategic relationships, supporting us to influence nationally on behalf of its members. The unit brings together mainstream media relations, national stakeholder engagement, parliamentary and Government relations, social media delivery, member communications and planning. As such, the role will also require you to play an active role in our media relations work, as required and in collaboration with colleagues. This could include responding to enquiries from journalists, preparing briefings for senior spokespeople ahead of interviews, and drafting and pitching stories and other content to mainstream outlets.

Additionally, you will be expected to form part of the press office on-call rota alongside other colleagues in the team, for which an additional allowance will be provided. Working as part of the team, you will contribute to the delivery of the external affairs unit’s and wider organisation’s strategic priorities, ensuring that both member intelligence and communications evaluation mechanisms are central to our approach.

  • Government and Parliamentary engagement

    • Support our monitoring of key developments in parliament and from government, working with colleagues to ensure that updates and briefings are shared internally and with our members in a timely manner and to a high standard. This includes liaising with external monitoring agencies, when needed.
    • Support our communications with MPs and government officials. This includes facilitating meetings, drafting correspondence, and coordinating content for briefings so that issues and developments affecting our members can be progressed and accurately relayed.
    • Support our involvement in the political party conferences and other key engagements opportunities with MPs.
    • Maintain up to date knowledge and contact lists of our key contacts across government, including the Department of Health and Social Care, as well as with MPs. Director of Communications Assistant Director of Communications External Affairs Manager (Media) External Affairs Officer External Affairs Manager (Public Affairs) Senior External Affairs Officer External Affairs Officer Communications and Membership Manager Communications and Membership Manager
    • Support the organisation’s formal responses to relevant government consultations, parliamentary inquiries and other influencing opportunities, in conjunction with colleagues across the business. This includes coordinating briefings for spokespeople with a wide variety of colleagues and liaising with parliamentary clerks and Government communications colleagues.

    Stakeholder relations

    • Work with the External Affairs Manager (Public Affairs) to support the organisation to build and maintain effective relationships with a broad range of stakeholders, both corporately and at the most senior levels. This includes with the Royal Colleges, professional representative bodies, think tanks, civil service departments, Arm’s Length Bodies, and patient charities.
    • Support the delivery of communications activities across the stakeholder coalitions that we host, in conjunction with the External Affairs Manager (Public Affairs) and the Assistant Director of Communications.
    • Monitor key developments across our most important stakeholders, including consultations and other engagement opportunities, ensuring that updates and briefings are shared with colleagues and our members in a timely manner and to a high standard, so that opportunities to influence policy developments are identified and explored fully.
    • Support the drafting of communications intended for our corporate stakeholders, alongside other members of the external affairs team. This includes supporting our corporate publications and other announcements, so that our strategic partners are aware of our work and we can exert influence.
    • Contribute, and when required, manage elements of engagement plans. This could include plans to support the work of the stakeholder coalitions that we host and our cross-membership projects, such as campaigns.
    • Alongside the External Affairs Manager (Public Affairs) and the Assistant Director of Communications, advise the chief executive, chair and directors on their direct engagement with key stakeholders, including in helping them to prepare for key meetings and events, and helping to support the organisation’s commitment to diversity.
    • Work with External Affairs Manager (Public Affairs) to deliver processes that allow us to monitor and evaluate the impact of our public affairs work.
    • Organise and support high quality events to engage, obtain insight and enable discussion between members, stakeholders and other decision-makers. This could range from seeking speaker suggestions for events, to facilitating parliamentary / stakeholder receptions, conference events or policy-orientated roundtables.

    Media relations

    • Support the external affairs team to provide a highly effective press office service, including its reactive and proactive elements, which is well regarded by mainstream media, our staff and members.
    • Support the drafting of media statements, press releases, opinion pieces and other materials intended for journalists, as required and alongside other colleagues.
    • Support our spokespeople with their engagement with the media, including in helping them to prepare for interviews, as required.
    • Liaise directly with journalists, as required in responding to enquiries and in pitching opportunities that will positively portray the experiences of our members and our policy positions.
    • Contribute to the use of our corporate social media channels to communicate our policy positions, support our announcements and campaigning, and engage our external audiences in our work.
    • Form part of the on-call rota for media enquiries outside of normal business hours, which is shared across the external affairs unit.
  • Experience

    • Experience in having worked in a public affairs role, within central or local government, or in a political environment.
    • Experience in contributing to communications or influencing plans that meet organisational objectives, alongside a broad range of colleagues and stakeholders.
    • Experience of providing advice to senior spokespeople. - Experience of political and stakeholder monitoring.
    • Experience of producing written communications to a high standard and within deadlines, including official correspondence and drafting briefings on policy developments.


    • Good understanding of government and parliamentary processes.
    • Good knowledge of MPs, government and senior stakeholder contacts.
    • Knowledge of and interest in the health and social care environment, politics, and current affairs more broadly.


    • Strong attention to detail and analytical skills.
    • Good oral and written communications skills.
    • Confident stakeholder engagement and relationship management skills, including with MPs and with senior staff.
    • Flexibility and ability to manage competing demands effectively and to a high standard, as well as in reprioritising work at short notice, when required.
    • Ability to use initiative and know when to seek senior input.
    • Excellent IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office, content management systems and corporate databases (CRM systems).


    • Strong work ethic and commitment to working as part of an integrated team.
    • Willingness to travel according to business need. Our offices are in London and Leeds; however, due to the ongoing impact of Covid -19, we have a flexible approach in place where most staff are currently working from home.
    • Able to work flexibly, including outside of standard hours when required and as part of an on -call rota.
  • Experience

    • Experience of working within healthcare communications and/or for a membership body.
    • Experience of working in a complex policy environment, with multiple stakeholder relationships to support.
    • Some experience of media relations.
    • Experience in communicating through social media channels in a professional context.


    • Knowledge of the work we do and our membership landscape.
    • Knowledge of how the media works.
  • Health and Safety At Work Act

    You will be required to take reasonable care for the safety and health of yourself and others who may be affected by their acts and to promote/ maintain health and safety measures.

Apply now

Please complete the application form and tell us why you are applying for this role. 

Please note we do not accept CVs. If you require the application form in another format please contact us

Completed application forms should be emailed to

For an informal discussion about the post before applying please email Paul Cooney.

Application deadline: 23rd June 2021
Interview date: w/c 5th July 2021

All applications must be received by 5.30pm on the day of the closing date unless specified. If your application is late, for whatever reason, there is no guarantee that we will be able to consider it.

Due to the high volume of applications we receive we are unable to respond to each applicant in person. Therefore, if you have not heard from us within three weeks of the closing date, your application has not been successful.