What do I need to be eligible for the Scheme?
What specialism should I apply for?
When you start your application you’ll be asked which specialism you want to apply for. As you won’t be able to change this specialism once you’ve applied, it’s crucial that you think carefully about your choice of specialism before you apply. Your chosen specialism will obviously dictate the professional qualification you undertake with us and the type of placement you have with us on the Scheme. However we expect you to be a leader first, and a specialist in your particular field second. We expect our graduates to work across silos and professional fields.
At the end of the Scheme many trainees decide to branch out into different specialisms from which they studied. Find out more about career paths of previous trainees here.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - It’s crucial that you think carefully about your choice before you apply. The DHSC Scheme is designed to develop influential policy leaders who are at the heart of Whitehall, supporting Ministers, and not at the NHS frontline. Our policy leaders set the direction and influence the broader health and social care area and not just the NHS.
Your choice will also dictate the professional qualification you undertake and the type of placements you have with us on the Scheme, so it’s important that your choice fits your future aspirations and passion.
Is the Scheme right for me?
To find out if you have the right attributes and skills to be a success on our Scheme please use our match me tool.
What kinds of people get a place on the Scheme?
All sorts of people can get a place on the Scheme. What they have in common are key competencies, including resilience, values and strengths that fit with the values and needs of the NHS. Above all else our successful applicants understand the values of the NHS, have a desire to provide excellent healthcare to our patients and have aspirations to lead healthcare teams and organisations. Please use our match me tool at to find out if you’re right for our scheme.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - The type of people we’re looking to recruit and develop are innovative thinkers who look for opportunities to do things differently, while using sound judgement and evidence to make effective decisions. They should be able to thrive in a fast-paced environment with changing priorities, and to build collaborative relationships across organisational boundaries. Above all, they should have a real passion for influencing real change and making a difference to the health and social care system.
Do I need management experience?
No, the Scheme is designed to develop your leadership skills. However If you have substantial management experience, then you may find that the Scheme is not suitable for you. Please visit NHS Careers website for further opportunities.
Are clinical/current NHS employees eligible for the Scheme?
Yes. We’re keen to attract clinical and/or NHS employees on to the Scheme.
Will it help my application if I have some work experience in the NHS?
It isn't essential. However, knowledge of the issues & challenges currently facing the NHS is essential.
Is there an age limit?
There is no age limit to the Scheme.
How much will I be paid during the Scheme?
Starting salaries will be around £23,000 p.a. (excluding location allowance where applicable). For current NHS staff there is the opportunity of capped salary protection (conditions apply). Further information is available on request.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - Starting salaries will be £27,568 (Leeds) or £31,210 (Inner London) plus increases in line with our Departmental and Scheme pay awards, which are pending and subject to satisfactory performance in the role.
Is the Scheme very competitive?
Hugely. We receive many more applications than there are places. Therefore you have to be fully committed to joining the NHS and our Scheme, to persevere with our highly competitive and demanding process. It’s also helpful if you can be as flexible as possible around your preferred work location. Please use our match me tool to find out if you’re right for our Scheme.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - This is the first year that we’re running the DHSC Scheme, and we do expect many more applications than there are places. The Scheme has been created in response to feedback from individuals who have a genuine interest in developing a long-term career in health and social care, and prelaunch interest has been very high. You need to be fully committed to joining DHSC and our Scheme, to persevere with the competitive and demanding application process.
Where will I be based?
We offer a diverse range of locations across England, more than most Graduate Schemes. When you apply you’ll be asked to nominate your three preferred working regions and we’ll try to place you in one of your choices. However, this may not always be possible and we may need to offer you a role outside your preferred areas.
Please note that you could be placed anywhere within a particular region. Once you’ve been placed in your region you will have to remain there for the duration of the Scheme working for at least two different organisations.
Please visit our locations map for more information on our regions.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - Our placements are in Leeds and London. When you apply you’ll be asked to nominate your preferred working region and we’ll try to accommodate your request. However, this may not always be possible and we may need to offer you a role outside your preferred area.
Are there NHS graduate opportunities outside of England?
There are separate Graduate Training Schemes for the NHS in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. To find out more, please go to the relevant websites.
What support will I get during training?
You'll be supported by your programme and placement managers, mentor, education tutors, fellow trainees, and our large alumni network.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - You'll be supported by your Scheme and placement managers, mentor, colleagues and fellow trainees. Your training and development will also support your personal growth throughout the Scheme.
Will I obtain any formal qualifications?
Yes. You'll be supported in achieving professional and post-graduate qualifications that are appropriate to your chosen specialism.
All of our trainees, regardless of specialism, complete The Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme - a fully accredited programme leading to a Postgraduate Certificate in Healthcare Leadership. For more information on this qualification please click here.
An example of the qualifications offered to last year's graduates is below. Please note these qualifications are reviewed on a regular basis.
CIPFA professional qualification (Chartered Institute of Public Financial Accounting) – predominantly delivered online.
Postgraduate Diploma in Healthcare Leadership, through the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson programme – to Diploma level. A mix of face- to-face residential, and virtual campus study.
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Analysis.
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Informatics, through UCL and mostly face-to-face learning.
Postgraduate Diploma in Human Resources.
Policy and Strategy
Postgraduate Diploma in Health Policy.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - Yes. You'll be supported in achieving a relevant post-graduate qualification, in addition to developing your leadership and people skills.
Am I still eligible if I’m already qualified/part qualified CIMA?
If you’re already qualified or have completed the intermediate / management stage of the professional accountancy qualification CIMA, you’ll be eligible to join the Finance specialism. Please note all of our Finance trainees have to study for the CIPFA qualification as part of the Scheme, and the educational component has been designed specifically for the NHS.
Am I still eligible if I’m already qualified/have completed the first stage of CIPFA?
If you’re already qualified or have completed the first stage (e.g. the 'Professional Certificate', 'Professional Diploma' or 'Strategic' papers) of the professional accountancy qualification CIPFA, you won’t be eligible to join the Finance specialism. All of our Finance trainees have to take this qualification as part of the Scheme and the educational component has been designed specifically for the NHS. You can, however, apply to join another specialism if you wish.
Am I still eligible if I already hold an Informatics postgraduate qualification?
If you’re studying or already have completed a postgraduate diploma in health informatics you will not be eligible to join the Health Informatics specialism. The educational component has been designed specifically for the NHS, so you’ll still need to take part fully. You can, however, apply to join another specialism if you wish.
Am I still eligible if I’m already qualified/part of the CIPD?
If you are Level 3 and/or Level 5 CIPD qualified you are eligible to apply for the HR specialism however you will not be awarded any exemptions.
If you are Level 7 CIPD qualified you will not be eligible to apply for the HR specialism but you can apply to join another specialism if you wish.
Am I still eligible if I’m currently studying or have completed the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme?
If you are currently studying or have completed the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Programme offered by the NHS Leadership Academy you can not apply for the General Management Scheme, but you can still apply to join any of our other specialisms.
Am I guaranteed a job at the end of the Scheme?
During the Scheme you'll be employed on a fixed-term contract. At the end of the Scheme we work hard with you to help you secure your first management post in the NHS.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - During the Scheme you'll be employed on a permanent contract. At the end of the Scheme we’ll support you to secure your first Grade 7 post in DHSC. We’ll support you with further career progression, once the Scheme has ended.
What kind of job might I expect to have at the end of the Scheme?
There's a wide range of posts to choose from across NHS organisations. Your experiences on the Scheme will help you decide what type of job you may wish take up after leaving the Scheme.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - There's a wide range of posts to choose from across DHSC. Your experiences on the Scheme will help you decide what type of job you may wish take up after leaving the Scheme.
What kind of salary can I expect after the Scheme?
The average salary on leaving the Scheme is currently between £27,000 and £37,000. You can expect possible future earnings of up to £90,000 as a Director or £100,000 plus as a Chief Executive.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - The scheme is designed to develop you to Grade 7 level by the end of the programme, although it does not guarantee you a Grade 7 job. The minimum G7 salary in DHSC is currently £47,139 in Leeds and £50,781 in London. You can expect possible future earnings of up to £75,887, average earning as a Deputy Director or £99,556 as a Director.
How do I apply?
You have to apply via an online application form. Please check the apply section of our website for full details.
How can I find out about the progress of my application?
As soon as you register with our online system you’ll receive an email with details of how to log in and keep up-to-date with your application. Each time you’re invited to the next stage of the process, you’ll receive your invitation via email and/or text. Please make sure you opt into our sms alert service when you start your online application.
How long will the Scheme last?
The Scheme will last up to 2 years for people on the General Management, HR, Health Informatics and Policy and Strategy specialisms. However, for people on the Finance specialism it will take up to 30 months, due to study for the relevant qualifications.
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme - The DHSC Scheme lasts for 3 years.
What is the application process?
The full process is an online application form followed by a series of online tests, then a video interview followed by an half-day assessment centre. You can find more details here.
If I have applied for the Graduate Scheme in a previous year, can I apply again?
If you have applied for the Graduate Scheme in a previous year, you are able to apply again.
Is the Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme part of the NHS Scheme?
No, although the NHS Leadership Academy carries out the recruitment and assessment aspects, the DHSC Policy Fast Track Scheme is a Civil Service scheme and not part of the NHS.
What is the Civil Service?
Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme
The Civil Service is politically impartial and independent of government. We work in central government departments, agencies, and non-departmental government bodies (NDPBs), to help the government of the day develop and implement its policies as effectively as possible.
In addition to paying benefits and pensions, running employment services, running prisons and issuing driving licenses, we also have staff working on policy development and implementation, including analysts, project managers, lawyers and economists.
The Civil Service does not include government ministers (who are politically appointed), members of the British Armed Forces, the police, officers of local government, employees of the NHS, or staff of the Royal Household.
We’re coordinated and managed by the Prime Minister, in her role as Minister for the Civil Service. The most senior Civil Servant in a department is a Permanent Secretary. In DHSC this is Sir Chris Wormald, who is also our Policy Fast Track Scheme Sponsor.
Is the Department of Health and Social Care Policy Fast Track Scheme an apprenticeship or graduate scheme?
The DHSC Policy Fast Track Scheme is a graduate scheme, although we do accept applications from eligible existing Civil Servants, either with or without a degree. This is a Civil Service scheme designed specifically for talented individuals who want to develop a career in health and social care policy within the Civil Service. It is separate to the Civil Service Fast Stream and the Civil Service Fast Track