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  • 13 November 2023
  • 5 min read

A Quick Overview Of Nurses' Salaries In The UK In 2024

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    • Nazish Javed
    • Laura Bosworth
  • 8
  • 743608
When you next hear about those highly paid agency Nurses, take it with a pinch of salt."When you next hear about those highly paid agency Nurses, take it with a pinch of salt."

In this article we take a look at how nursing salaries are determined, how they vary between sectors and some points to consider if you’re looking to increase yours.

(Please note: This article includes the 5% pay increase announced in May 2023)

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

What is the starting salary for a Nurse in 2024?

What is the average salary for a Nurse?

What salary do you earn with each NHS banding?

How do you increase your salary?

How much do private Nurses earn?

Do you earn more as an agency or bank Nurse?

NHS Take Home Pay & More Information On Nursing Salaries

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Introduction

The so-called ‘New Pay Deal’ introduced in 2018  ended in 2021. Since then, a 3% pay rise was announced in 2021, followed by a similar increase in 2022. And most recently, in May 2023, a 5% pay increase has been agreed - alongside a one-off payment ranging between around £1900 and £3000, depending on levels of seniority.

For Nurses of varying levels of experience and across different bandings, that means that salaries have been affected in lots of different ways.

Meanwhile, not all Nurses in the UK work within the NHS – and therefore, many haven’t been affected by the New Pay Deal.

So here’s a brief guide to nursing salaries in 2023 as they currently stand.

What Is The Starting Salary For A Nurse?

A newly qualified Band 5 NHS nurse now earns £28,407.

The vast majority of Nurses will work for the NHS once qualified, but it is possible to enter the workforce at a private institution.

Here, the pay is unregulated, but as a starting wage you’re likely to earn a similar or slightly higher rate of pay.

But keep in mind the benefits package too.

As an NHS worker, the benefits you’ll receive will be difficult to match.

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What Is The Average Salary For A Nurse?

The Royal College of Nursing estimated in 2021 that the average annual salary of an NHS nurse is £33,384. The pay rise introduced across the NHS in 2023 means that average is probably now closer to £37,000.

More broadly, we estimate that the average salary for a nurse is somewhere between £33,000 and £37,000.

That takes into account the average amount of experience of a UK nurse, and data collected on major job boards.

What Salary Do You Earn With Each NHS Banding?

NHS pay is operated in a banding system that was introduced in 2004.

This system allocates specific roles and levels of seniority to specific bands, and therefore, salaries.

As already mentioned, newly qualified nurses enter the workforce at Band 5. Band 5 nurses can earn up to £34,581 with enough years' experience (over 4 years).

Within Band 6, the starting salary is £35,392 and the highest possible salary is £42,618.

Band 7 salaries start well beyond £43,000 a year, and for anyone within Band 8 and beyond, salary ranges become more complex. You can find all details on salaries within every banding point by using our handy NHS Pay calculator.

The upper ranges of each banding are achieved by performing the role within that banding for a certain number of years.

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How Do You Increase Your Salary?

As an NHS nurse, your salary will increase as you gain more years of experience within your particular pay band.

However, those incremental increases stop when you reach the top of your banding – and the only increase that could apply is an inflationary one.

The other way to increase your earnings is to move into a higher banding.

This can only be achieved by applying for a new role within that banding, which in itself will normally require gaining further qualifications.

This might be possible from courses that can fit around your existing job.

However, in some circumstances you may need to complete some specialist study or a Master’s Degree.

Trusts will often be willing to fund this.

How Much Do Private Nurses Earn?

Private nursing pay is unregulated, so it’s impossible to say how much a private nurse earns, on average.

Anecdotally it’s said that the pay is typically in-line with an NHS salary – and in some cases, a bit higher

Anecdotally it’s said that the pay is typically in-line with an NHS salary – and in some cases, a bit higher.

Whatever financial benefits there may be from working privately must be balanced with other aspects of the job too.

Private hospitals and care settings tend not to be as stretched as NHS organisations, so the work might not be as stressful.

But typically, the benefits aren’t as good.

Ultimately, every private sector role must be individually assessed for its pay and suitability for you.

Do You Earn More As An Agency Or Bank Nurse?

The daily rates of pay for nurses who work through agencies or NHS Trust banks can be quite high – much higher, in some cases, than the daily pay of a permanently employed nurse.

These spikes in pay happen because the NHS is overstretched, and hospitals often desperately need nurses at short notice.

It’s a consequence of acute demand – demand that’s been exacerbated by an ageing population.

However, this doesn’t paint the full picture.

Agency and bank nurses don’t necessarily earn that same rate every day, and a comparison to full-time rates is misleading when you consider deductions like tax, pension and national insurance.

Furthermore, to truly earn more money in the long-term as an agency or bank nurse, you’ll need to be able to get work consistently.

For that, you’ll need lots of experience and contacts ideally across difference specialisms and locations.

So, when you next hear about those highly paid agency nurses, take it with a pinch of salt.

NHS Take Home Pay & More Information On Nursing Salaries

For more information about pay for NHS nurses (take home pay, showing deductions, pension and benefits, in weekly, monthly or annual amounts) go to our NHS Take Home Pay Calculator.

For more information about nursing pay generally, and the full table displaying pay rates for NHS Nurses according to bandings go to our UK Nursing Salary and Pay Scale Guide - 2024.

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About the author

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.

    • Nazish Javed
    • Laura Bosworth
  • 8
  • 743608

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    • Gwen Makosana one year ago
      Gwen Makosana
    • Gwen Makosana
      one year ago

      This article is very misleading and not true. A band 5 nurse pay rate does not start at £33k. A ... read more

      • Hi Gwen, I think you've misread the article, it actually states "A newly qualified Band 5 NHS nurse now earns £27,055" and "the average annual salary of an NHS nurse is £33,384" We also link to ou... read more

        Hi Gwen, I think you've misread the article, it actually states "A newly qualified Band 5 NHS nurse now earns £27,055" and "the average annual salary of an NHS nurse is £33,384" We also link to our Pay Calculator which goes much more in depth. All of our information is taken from official sources, and our aim is not to mislead, but to inform.
        read less

        Replied by: Mat Martin
    • Stephen Mallison one year ago
      Stephen Mallison
    • Stephen Mallison
      one year ago

      Am I missing something, starting salary around £27k average salary around £35k seems pretty good to me. I am ... read more

      • Stating salary is about £25k. To get to £33k can take yrs and have to have been promoted thanks to the pay cap. So if you remain in the same band(which is the majority of nurses)the pay remains pretty... read more

        Stating salary is about £25k. To get to £33k can take yrs and have to have been promoted thanks to the pay cap. So if you remain in the same band(which is the majority of nurses)the pay remains pretty much the same. This article is misleading and not giving the correct information about nurse’s pay.
        read less

        Replied by: Gwen Makosana

        Hi Gwen, Again I think you've misread the article. We state "Band 5 nurses can earn up to £32,934 with enough years' experience(over 4 years)." As stated above, all our information is drawn from off... read more

        Hi Gwen, Again I think you've misread the article. We state "Band 5 nurses can earn up to £32,934 with enough years' experience(over 4 years)." As stated above, all our information is drawn from official sources.
        read less

        Replied by: Mat Martin
    • Melissa Smith one year ago
      Melissa Smith
    • Melissa Smith
      one year ago

      Decent salaries, add on the great final salary pension, sick pay and generous leave and nursing really is a great ... read more

    • Kim Maidment one year ago
      Kim Maidment
    • Kim Maidment
      one year ago

      I volunteered at the NHS during lockdown as a Medical Electronics Engineer. They tried to pay me on Band 2 ... read more

    • hazel cuthill one year ago
      hazel cuthill
    • hazel cuthill
      one year ago

      twenty years ago nurses were badly paid, not now, now they are very well paid. Remember maslows heirarchy of needs, ... read more

      • Good to have all opinions. I take your point. The strike is about conditions as well as pay. And I accept people will view pay levels differently. But I think something needs to be said and done about... read more

        Good to have all opinions. I take your point. The strike is about conditions as well as pay. And I accept people will view pay levels differently. But I think something needs to be said and done about the conditions, including the severe staffing crisis. That affects morale and patient care. Really appreciate you making your point Hazel, thank you.
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

        Greedy and selfish ? Why do you think that there are thousands of nursing vacancies ? Most of those considering a career in nursing take a look at the salaries and conditions, plus paying for their ow... read more

        Greedy and selfish ? Why do you think that there are thousands of nursing vacancies ? Most of those considering a career in nursing take a look at the salaries and conditions, plus paying for their own three year university training and think:- "I'll give that a miss." Why pick on nurses because they get sick pay, holidays with pay, and a guaranteed pension when they retire ? Every single person who works in fire and rescue, the police, local and national government, the civil service etc, gets the same. And they don't have to go to university either ! Most of those who work in the private sector also get the same sick pay and holiday entitlement. Thanks to Gordon Brown when he was Chancellor, they no longer get final salary pensions, but most will receive a pension of some sort. If you're going to pick on someone, have a go at the MP's who run this country. They like to say that serving their country "is a vocation" - something that's thrown at nurses all the time i.e. it's a vocation and if you want more pay then you're in the wrong job. MP's earn £86,500 p.a. and with expenses that they can claim, it pushes it up to around £100,00 p.a plus. They also get around 80 days away from Westminster, but they argue it's spent doing work in their constituencies !
        read less

        Replied by: Trevor Bow
    • Jency Samuel 2 years ago
      Jency Samuel
    • Jency Samuel
      2 years ago

      Kindly advise, i got many offer for band 5 nursing however salary is only 24K only. I have overseas experience ... read more

      • Obviously, it's very difficult for us to talk specifically about a particular situation as we don't know all the details. But if it is an NHS role in England / Wales then you will be paid in line with... read more

        Obviously, it's very difficult for us to talk specifically about a particular situation as we don't know all the details. But if it is an NHS role in England / Wales then you will be paid in line with the banding of the role, together with the years exp you have. Before the 3% pay rise a Band 5 would start on £24K. The new starting rate for NHS Band 5 nurses is detailed above and on our Pay Guide and Pay Calculator page. If you are talking about private healthcare, then, yes, that will vary.
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah
    • Louise Tulloch 3 years ago
      Louise Tulloch
    • Louise Tulloch
      3 years ago

      Primary care nursing offers an amazing career for newly qualified nurses but I worry we will be able to keep ... read more

    • Louise Tulloch 3 years ago
      Louise Tulloch
    • Louise Tulloch
      3 years ago

      Matt the idea that we nurse for love and not money is incorrect. We love the job we do but ... read more

      • That's a very fair point Louise. I did write that in my bio: "nurses do it for love not money". I guess I didn't mean you're happy to do it for no money, but I get that that's how it read - so I've ju... read more

        That's a very fair point Louise. I did write that in my bio: "nurses do it for love not money". I guess I didn't mean you're happy to do it for no money, but I get that that's how it read - so I've just changed it! Thanks Louise.
        read less

        Replied by: Matt Farrah

        Nursing jobs available

        Replied by: Jabbar Huusain