• 18 May 2020
  • 5 min read

A quick overview of nurses' salaries in the UK in 2020

  • Matt Farrah
    Nurses.co.uk Co-Founder
"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.

Topics covered in this article

Introduction

What is the starting salary for a Nurse in 2020?

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?

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Introduction

Nurses are entering the third year of the so-called ‘New Pay Deal’ introduced in 2018.

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

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Meanwhile, not all Nurses in the UK work within the NHS – and therefore, many won’t be affected by the New Pay Deal in 2020.

So here’s a brief guide to Nursing salaries in 2020.

What is the starting salary for a Nurse in 2020?

As of April 2020, a newly qualified, Band 5 NHS Nurse will earn £24,907.

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.

What is the average salary for a Nurse?

The Royal College have estimated that the average annual salary of an NHS Nurse is £33,384.

More broadly, we estimate that the average salary for a Nurse is somewhere between £33,000 and £35,000.

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.

The salary ranges at each banding beyond this level are:

• Band 6: £31,365 to £37,890

• Band 7: £38,890 to £44,503

• Band 8: £45,753 to £87,754

• Band 9: £91,004 to £104,927

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

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.

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 and Covid-19.

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.

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About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Nurses.co.uk Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk in 2008. I’m interested in providing a platform that gives a voice to nurses and those working in care and nursing. I'm fascinated by the career choices we make. In the case of those working in care I've discovered that there's a positive, life-affirming common theme: they do it for love not money.

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  • Matt Farrah
    Nurses.co.uk Co-Founder

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Nurses.co.uk Co-Founder

I studied English before moving into publishing in the mid 90s. I co-founded Nurses.co.uk in 2008. I’m interested in providing a platform that gives a voice to nurses and those working in care and nursing. I'm fascinated by the career choices we make. In the case of those working in care I've discovered that there's a positive, life-affirming common theme: they do it for love not money.