What does a hospital porter do?
Hospital porters move patients around the hospital, for example, taking someone from a ward to the x-ray department and back again. They use a wheelchair or sometimes a trolley. They would also remove dead bodies from the ward to the mortuary.
Other duties are likely to include taking meals to patients and clean linen to wards; moving furniture and equipment; and delivering post, files and specimens to different parts of the hospital. Porters may also dispose of waste, which can sometimes be hazardous, so they will be required to wear some protective clothing whilst undertaking these duties.
In some hospitals the porter may be required to help with security, which could involve working on the reception desk.
What's the working environment like working as a hospital porter?
Hospital porters work 39 hours a week, mainly shifts and often including weekends. They might work days only, although this is unusual. Part-time work is possible.
A hospital porter could work anywhere on the hospital site including outside the buildings, whatever the weather. The duties can be heavy, including lifting and carrying. They spend a lot of time standing and walk long distances.
What does it take to become a hospital porter?
As a hospital porter, you will need:
- Good communication skills for dealing with other hospital staff, patients and the general public in a friendly and helpful manner
- To be physically fit and active
- The ability to cope well under pressure
- The ability to act calmly and quickly in emergencies
- To be able to follow instructions
- To be reliable and hardworking
- To be able to cope well with sickness, death and distress.
Hospital porter career opportunities
Most hospital porters are employed by the NHS, although there are opportunities in the private sector. Competition for posts is likely to be high.
Individuals with suitable skills and personal qualities could achieve promotion to a more senior post. To progress into management, qualifications in supervision and management may be required.
It may be possible to move into another area of health care such as the ambulance service or nursing. See relevant job profiles for more information.
Vacancies for hospital porters are advertised in the local press, job centres and through local NHS trusts/hospitals.