Senior External Affairs Officer

An exciting opportunity to become our Senior External Affairs Officer.
  • London (preferable, with some remote working allowed)

  • Permanent, Full time

  • £32,045-£34,170 including London Weighting (if applicable) and On Call Allowance


About the Role

As a Senior External Affairs Officer you will:

  • Support the running of an active, and ongoing, public affairs programme so that we maintain strong links with a broad range of influencers, including senior officials across Government, Parliament, the ALBs, and other representative bodies.
  • Support our external monitoring activities so that the NHS Confederation and our members are abreast of, and can steer, key developments in policy.
  • Lead on coordinating and drafting briefings for the chief executive, chair, and other senior colleagues ahead of important engagement opportunities, such as appearances before parliamentary committees, the annual political party conferences, 1:1 meetings, roundtables, and events.
  • Draft, schedule, and distribute letters and other correspondence to our strategic partners and Parliamentarians on a range of matters.
  • Support our major campaigns and communications activities for some of the coalitions that the NHS Confederation hosts, in addition to contributing to the delivery and coordination of broader communications plans. 
  • Play an active role in our media relations work, including in responding to enquiries from journalists, preparing briefings ahead of interviews, and drafting stories and other content for mainstream outlets. In addition, the postholder will form part of the press office on-call rota.

About you

We would love to hear from you if you have:

  • At least three years’ experience in a public affairs role and/or parliamentary environment, with a detailed understanding of politics and ideally, of the health and care sector in England.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, political awareness and analytical skills, including the ability to interpret policy at pace.
  • Developed positive relationships with chief executives, MPs, government officials and other stakeholders.
  • Contributed to engagement plans and campaigns that are designed to influence Government and Parliament.
  • Strong organisational skills and experience of working in a busy environment where you have had to juggle proactive and reactive workloads simultaneously and to a high standard.
  • A commitment to teamwork, integrated communications, and continuous improvement.


  • 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.
    • 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 the NHS Confederation hosts, 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 the NHS Confederation hosts 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 NHS Confederation 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

    • At least three years’ experience of 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, with most staff currently working remotely currently due to the pandemic.
    • 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 NHS Confederation’s work and its membership landscape
    • Knowledge of how the media works.

Apply Now

Complete the application form.

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 job applications.

For an informal discussion about the post and the NHS Confederation before applying please contact Paul Cooney 

Application deadline: Midnight on the 11th October 2021

Interview date: w/c 25th October

All applications must be received by 11.59pm 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 week of the closing date, your application has not been successful.