• 06 July 2020
  • 8 min read

What's the typical starting wage for a Nurse in the UK in 2020?

  • Claire Carmichael
    Adult Nurse - General Practice Nurse
    • Mat Martin
    • Matt Farrah
    • Sarah Coombes
    • Richard Gill
    • Aubrey Hollebon
    • Sibonokuhle Phiri
    • Maryam Olawale
    • Janet Mensah
  • 2
  • 2320
"The current average starting salary for a Band 5 Nurse in the UK is £24,907 per year"

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?

Do Nursing Pay Rates Depend On WHERE You Work?

What’s The Starting Wage For A Nurse Working In The Private Sector?

Agency And Bank Pay For Nurses

When Do NHS Nurses Get A Pay Rise?

If I’m A Nurse Looking For More Pay, How Can I Make Extra Money?

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.

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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?

Who knows…?

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What do YOU think?

Let me know your thoughts in the Comments & click Like!

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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…

In the private sector, it’s such a varied pay scale as each company will have their own pot of money to pay staff with.

Do Nursing Pay Rates Depend On WHERE You Work?

Yes.

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.

Whether you choose NHS, private or the agency sector make sure the pay, terms and benefits work out for you and your life.

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.

So, when considering where you’ll work as a Nurse, think about the kind of life you want to lead – not just pay.

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.

A new deal is expected to be announced at some point in 2020, to determine exactly how much of a pay increase Nurses can expect in the coming years.

In April 2020, the pay rise for NHS Nurses is approximately 1.7% if you’re at the top of your 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!

About the author

  • Claire Carmichael
    Adult Nurse - General Practice Nurse

I am a qualified Adult Nurse, working as a General Practice Nurse. I believe that nursing gets a lot of bad press, so I create blogs and vlogs to help anyone considering their nursing career and to create positivity surrounding our profession as I'm so passionate about nursing.

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  • Claire Carmichael
    Adult Nurse - General Practice Nurse

About the author

  • Claire Carmichael
    Adult Nurse - General Practice Nurse

I am a qualified Adult Nurse, working as a General Practice Nurse. I believe that nursing gets a lot of bad press, so I create blogs and vlogs to help anyone considering their nursing career and to create positivity surrounding our profession as I'm so passionate about nursing.

  • 2 Comments
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    • Janet Mensah 25 days ago
      Janet Mensah
    • Janet Mensah
      25 days ago

      I definitely agree with your personal opinion, seems like something the government could do, especially as they have now put ... read more

    • Louise Tulloch 27 days ago
      Louise Tulloch
    • Louise Tulloch
      27 days ago

      I was interested to read what another General Practice nurse had to say about pay. I would like to know ... read more

      • Hi Louise, We aren’t under the agenda for change where I am. But I am on a lot more than the agenda for change at the minute :)and we had a pay increase this year! I’ve found a very good practice luckily :)x
        Replied by: Claire Carmichael