- 09 January 2021
- 8 min read
What's the typical starting wage for a Nurse in the UK in 2021?
- Mat Martin
- Matt Farrah
- Laura Bosworth
- Richard Gill
- Aubrey Hollebon
- Sibonokuhle Phiri
- Maryam Olawale
- Janet Mensah
- Joanna Chraihi
With the NHS ‘Agenda for Change’ New Pay Deal now in its 3rd year, we take a look at the new starting wage for newly qualified nurses, and compare the NHS to the private sector.
Topics covered in this article
What Is The Typical Starting Wage For A NHS Nurse In The UK?
As a student nurse or newly qualified nurse you might be wondering about pay in the UK?
Let’s just get straight to the nursing salary question and get that answered: The current average starting salary for a Band 5 Nurse in the UK is £24,907 per year (minus tax and pensions).
This is according to the Agenda for Change, as of April 2020.
(That’s the minimum and does not include any allowances or location weighting.)
Roughly after all stoppages, nurses get between £1,600 - £1,800 per month.
For me, I wasn’t as concerned about what I would be paid but I had to make sure that my bills would be covered.
Each year you will get a pay increment.
We detail this here on nurses.co.uk on our Pay Guide page.
This all depends on your performance over the year and whether you have maintained all your mandatory training for the year.
They can withhold your pay increments if this isn’t done.
Your pay also depends on how much service you have done in the NHS already and what role you are doing.
As you can see on the pay scale, it will increase the higher the band you go.
It was only in 2018 that nursing pay in the UK was increased to this new pay scale after years of nurses fighting for better recognition.
(An NHS nurse’s starting salary increased every year for the subsequent three years.)
Back in 2015, for a Band 5 nurse it was only £21,692, which is a 12.9% increase over the past 5 years.
However, do not be fooled by this percentage, this doesn’t make up for all the years of pay cap nurses suffered as it was averaged at around 12% LOSS in 2015.
But now the cap has been scrapped, will nurses start to see a regular pay increase in the future?
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What do YOU think?
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I absolutely think nurses should be paid a whole lot more for what they do, and I thought this would be recognised after COVID is done with.
My personal opinion is, that we will be on another pay freeze after this covid-19 pandemic: a decision I wouldn’t agree with or be happy with, but we shall see…
Do Nursing Pay Rates Depend On WHERE You Work?
It very much depends on the place you work for.
For instance, in GP nursing, each GP has their own funding to spend as they wish on staffing.
So, each GP will vary but some go by the Agenda for Change, the same as the NHS to keep it fair.
However, if you are applying to GP, I advise you to ask in your interview or prior, about their contracts and how much annual leave, sick pay and maternity / paternity as well as pensions you are entitled to.
This is something a couple of GPs aren’t the best at, and some won’t offer you a very good deal, so make sure you get everything in place before signing the dotted line.
In addition, agencies are also on a different pay scale and both private / agency work is often a little bit more pay than the NHS.
What’s The Starting Wage For A Nurse Working In The Private Sector?
Newly qualified, NMC registered Nurses can actually start their careers in the private sector too.
Here, the starting salary is more difficult to pin down because pay in the private sector is unregulated.
But some anecdotal reports suggest it can offer a slightly higher starting salary.
Barchester Healthcare, for example, is one of the biggest private providers of nursing and residential care services in the UK – and tends to offer a starting salary that’s slightly higher than the NHS equivalent.
The vast majority of newly qualified Nurses start their careers within the NHS, so private providers probably have to offer a little more money to grab their attention.
However, it’s by no means a certainty that your starting salary will be higher in the private sector.
Other considerations are important too.
Benefits in the NHS are renowned for being excellent and rarely matched by private jobs.
But, private positions normally offer more flexibility and a lower Nurse to patient ratio.
Agency And Bank Pay For Nurses
Meanwhile, many other Nurses choose to work via an agency or through a trust’s bank.
Not only does this offer lots of flexibility, but it can offer much higher daily rates of pay.
But without the benefits and security of a full-time position, the key to success as a bank or agency Nurse is finding work consistently.
Broadly speaking, that makes it a better choice when you’ve already gained some experience first.
Ultimately, nursing pay is enormously varied depending on experience, where you work and what you choose to specialise in.
But undoubtedly, there’s a growing consensus nationally that Nurses have never been more important – and should earn a salary that reflects that.
When Do NHS Nurses Get A Pay Rise?
The way the most recent pay plans were structured have meant that NHS Nurses get their incremental pay rise every April.
The last pay deal began in April 2018 and was set for three years.
An announcement about a new pay deal for the NHS is expected imminently, which will determine how much of a pay rise Nurses can expect in the coming years.
The current annual increase was 1.7% for those at the top of their banding.
If I’m A Nurse Looking For More Pay, How Can I Make Extra Money?
Which leads me to my final piece of advice, how to make more or extra money whilst nursing?
A few nurses I know do extra shifts as bank or agency work, as they offer more pay per hour this way, especially if you do a Sunday or bank holiday shift.
Some places offer up to double pay during those times!
However, if you wanted something non-nursing related, you could set up an online Etsy store and get creative.
This is something I personally do on the side to make a few extra pounds here and there in my own time, with no pressure added.
A few student nurses are now making flash cards and selling these on Etsy, and they do really well!
Also looking into your own trust for bank shifts or university for paid work too; something else I did as a student was being a student ambassador and got paid for this – I loved it!
I love doing extra things on the side that are going to keep me motivated.
For me, it’s not just about extra money, it’s about keeping me doing what I love with passion.
Let me know in the comments your thoughts on Nurses Pay and what I've said above - let's chat there!
Oh, and please Like this article to let me know you enjoyed it - thank you!