Lots of different people work in NHS hospitals with a number of different jobs. Many of them don't have direct with patients, but all are vital for the efficient running of a hospital.
So who does what, and where? Below you'll find a list of the professionals you're likely to come across in an NHS hospital in the UK. This isn't an exhaustive list and hospitals vary in their range of staff and departments.
For specific information on the different departments in an NHS hospital, read The A to Z of NHS hospital departments in the UK.
• Administrative staff
Admin staff work in a range of roles, usually out of sight of patients, to ensure the effective running of a department or the whole hospital.
• Ambulance care assistants
Ambulance care assistants transport non-emergency patients to and from hospital.
• Ambulance technicians
Technicians assist paramedics in their accident and emergency work.
Anaesthetists give local or general anaesthetics to patients. They vary in levels of seniority. Anaesthetists also monitor the condition of patients as they undergo treatment such as surgery and sometimes run outpatient pain management clinics.
• Art therapists
They enable patients of all ages to communicate and express their feelings through art.
They identify and assess hearing and balance disorders. They provide appropriate rehabilitation and management, often working closely with ear nose and throat (ENT) consultants.
• Biomedical scientists
Biomedical scientists carry out a range of laboratory tests to help doctors in their diagnosis and treatment of patients.
• Cardiac physiologists
Cardiac physiologists carry out investigations into the functioning of the heart and equipment fitted to help the heart, such as pacemakers.
They work in the cardiac (heart) department of hospitals, helping to operate machines that monitor heart function.
Cardiologists are qualified doctors who diagnose, assess and manage patients with diseases of the heart and vascular system (circulation). Their experience ranges from junior hospital doctors to senior consultant level.
• Catering staff
The catering staff work in the kitchen and canteens. They are responsible for providing food to patients and staff.
Chaplains are employed by the NHS to minister to patients and staff. Most religions are usually catered for and a chapel is found in most hospitals.
• Children's nurses
These are specialist nurses who care for sick children on the paediatric wards and outpatient departments. They provide support to children and their families.
• Clinical biochemists
They work in hospital laboratories to produce and interpret the results of tests performed on blood and other body fluids. This helps in the diagnosis and management of disease.
• Clinical cytogeneticists
They work in a rapidly expanding science in the NHS. They are experts in studying chromosomes from samples of blood, tissue, bone marrow or other bodily fluids. Their work is now very important in diagnosing genetic diseases.
• Clinical immunologists
Clinical immunologists research and investigate the immune system (the body's defences).
• Clinical microbiologists
Clinical microbiologists identify bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic infections, including hospital-acquired infections such as MRSA and C. difficile.
• Communications/public relations (PR) managers
The people in PR make information about the hospital available to staff and the public, sometimes through the media.
• Computing staff
IT staff maintain the computer networks, hardware and software systems used by all hospital staff.
They use various talking therapies to provide help and support to patients.
• Cervical cytologists
They use a microscope to examine cells taken from a cervical smear to screen for abnormalities that may be the first signs of cervical cancer.
• Dental staff
The dental team work in a number of areas in hospitals. Hospital dentists usually deal with complex cases that have been referred by other dentists and GPs. Dental technicians make dentures, crowns, bridges and braces for patients.
Dietitians work with people to promote nutritional wellbeing, prevent food-related problems and treat disease.
The doctors diagnose symptoms and recommend treatment for patients. They have a wide range of clinical experience ranging from newly qualified junior doctors to senior consultants.
• Emergency medical dispatchers
They deal with urgent calls to the ambulance service. They send out and control the various accident and emergency vehicles at each hospital's disposal.
• Estates and facilities managers
The facilities team ensure the hospital provides safe and comfortable healthcare facilities for patients, carers, visitors and staff.
• Finance managers
Finance managers run hospital budgets to ensure that NHS funds are appropriately allocated, used and accounted for.
The gardeners are responsible for the hospital grounds, helping to grow and cultivate plants, shrubs and lawns on the NHS premises. They work alongside grounds staff who maintain the physical environment outside the hospital.
• General managers
The GMs work alongside senior clinical staff in organising the provision and delivery of healthcare.
Gynaecologists are qualified doctors who treat diseases and disorders of the female reproductive system.
• Hand therapists
They are either occupational therapists or physiotherapists with a special expertise in the treatment of hand injuries and conditions. They assess hand movement, sensation and function, and manage wounds and scars.
• Health records staff
The records staff organise, retrieve and archive patient records on the wards and in outpatient clinics. They work with paper and computerised health records.
• Health support workers
Support workers provide care to patients under the supervision of a healthcare professional such as a doctor or senior nurse.
• Health visitors
Health visitors are qualified nurses who have undergone specialist training on health promotion and illness prevention for babies and children under five.
The housekeepers manage a wide range of services on the ward, including cleaning, catering and bedclothes.
• Human resource (HR) managers
HR are responsible for the recruitment, selection, appraisal, development and training of all staff.
• Laboratory staff
The lab team work in pathology laboratories, helping doctors and scientists to diagnose and treat disease.
• Learning disability nurses
These nurses are often part of a wider care team who work with people with learning disabilities to help them become as independent as possible.
• Library staff
The library staff support health professionals and management in their education, training and development. Volunteer librarians provide books to patients staying on a ward.
• Laundry services
They take items of clothing or linen from wards and other patient areas, then clean and return them.
• Health service managers
They are responsible for delivering quality local healthcare through the management of hospital, community and family health services.
• Medical laboratory assistants
Lab assistants are clinical support staff who work in laboratories, helping doctors diagnose and treat disease.
• Mental health nurses
These type of nurses care for people with mental health problems in hospitals and in the community, working with hospital consultants and GPs.
Midwives offer individual care to pregnant women and their families. They assist women during labour on the obstetric ward and in the delivery suite.
• Molecular geneticists
They use chemical examination of cellular DNA to define genetic abnormalities.
Neurosurgeons are highly trained surgeons who deal with the diagnosis and treatment of problems that affect the brain and nervous system.
Nurses work in a variety of settings to provide and manage the care of individual patients. They work closely with doctors and other healthcare professionals.
• Nursing assistants
Nursing assistants help provide basic patient care under the guidance of nurses.
• Nursery staff
Staff in the nursery provide care for children up to five years old. They often work in crèches that children of hospital staff can use.
Obstetricians are doctors who mainly deal with the management of pregnancy and childbirth. They work in outpatient clinics and on hospital wards and can perform operations such as Caesarean sections.
• Occupational therapists
Also referred to as an OT, they help people overcome mobility problems arising from illness or disability. They concentrate on what patients can achieve, rather than focusing on their disabilities.
They are doctors who specialise in the medical and surgical management of eye conditions. They work closely with optometrists.
Optometrists perform eyesight tests and examinations. They prescribe lenses or glasses to those who need them.
They assess and manage a range of eye problems, usually linked to the way eyes move.
• Orthodontic specialists
These specialists work in the branch of dentistry concerned with the correction of misaligned teeth and jaws. This is done with braces, retainers or other dental appliances.
• Orthopaedic technicians
They work in trauma, orthopaedic and accident and emergency clinics to fix fractures and broken bones. They apply plaster and plastering techniques to align bones and heal injuries.
Orthotists help patients with foot problems. They provide splints, braces and special footwear to improve movement, correct deformities and relieve discomfort.
Paediatricians specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of childhood illnesses. They work in children's hospital wards and outpatient clinics.
The paramedics are the senior members of accident and emergency ambulance crews. They are trained in all aspects of pre-hospital emergency care and in emergency driving. They are qualified to give emergency medical treatment.
Pathologists are qualified doctors who study the causes of diseases and specialise in their detection. They perform post-mortem examinations on bodies after death if required and also analyse organs.
The pharmacist team are experts in drugs, including dosage and side-effects. They can be involved in all aspects of the use, preparation and development of a medicine. They work in the hospital pharmacy alongside pharmacy technicians.
• Pharmacy technicians
They help prepare and deliver medicines, store incoming drugs and make up sterile preparations.
Phlebotomists take blood from patients in wards or outpatient clinics for examination in laboratories.
Physios treat the physical problems caused by accidents, illness and ageing, particularly those that affect the muscles, bones, heart, circulation and lungs.
• Podiatrists and chiropodists
They specialise in keeping the legs and feet healthy.
• Hospital porters
Porters move patients between different departments and wards in safety and comfort. They also transport any equipment that may need moving around the hospital.
Prosthetists provide artificial limb replacements for patients who have lost or were born without a limb.
Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. They can prescribe medicines and may also use psychological (talking) treatments to help patients.
Psychologists are people who have a degree in psychology, but are not qualified medical doctors. They use psychological approaches to bring about improvements in patients' mental health. They cannot prescribe medicines.
Psychotherapists use psychological approaches to treat adults and children with a wide range of mental, emotional and behavioural problems. Again, they are not qualified medical doctors so can't prescribe medicines.
The radiographers work in X-ray departments to produce and interpret images used in the diagnosis of injury and disease.
Radiologists are specialist doctors who work either in clinical radiology (diagnostic scans) or clinical oncology (cancer treatment). Therapeutic radiographers treat cancer patients using high doses of radiation.
• Respiratory physiology technicians
They work with respiratory consultants to carry out investigations that help the diagnosis of breathing disorders, such as asthma and emphysema.
• Medical secretaries
The secretaries work for a consultant or a group of consultants. They type up letters from consultants to GPs and other departments. They also arrange consultants' timetables.
• Speech and language therapists
They work with people who have problems communicating because of speech defects and patients who have difficulty chewing or swallowing.
• Sterile services managers
They are responsible for supplying sterile equipment on wards and making sure all medical equipment is properly disinfected.
• Stores staff
The stores staff are responsible for general stock taking. They collect and deliver stores to wards, clinics and departments.
Surgeons are qualified doctors who specialise in operating on particular parts of the body. These range from junior surgeons to highly qualified senior consultants.
• Ward clerks
The ward clerks work under the supervision of the ward manager and other qualified staff on a hospital ward. They perform a range of administrative duties, including dealing with patient notes and records.
• Ward managers
The ward managers are senior nurses who are in charge of the budgets, staff and medical care of patients on their ward.