What is Starting Salary for Nurses in the UK

2024 May 30

Nursing is a vital profession in the UK. From assisting doctors to caring for patients, nurses play many roles. They ensure the safety and well-being of their patients. 

If you feel that nursing is a viable career path, welcome! Here, we will guide you through the pay scaling of nurses in the UK. Let's get started!

The Private Sector Pay System 

Let’s take a look at the private sector pay system first- 

  • Salary Flexibility - In contrast to other sectors that we will discuss, the private sector is more flexible and negotiable. In fact, most nurses when applying for medical institutions, schools and other institution negotiate their salary according to their potential value added to the team and the organization. 
  • Stability and Security - On the other hand, due to the dynamic function of the private sector, job security is not the absolute best that it can be. In addition to the long working hours, you may be subject to uncharacteristic job cuts and layoffs. 
  • Dynamic Work Environments - As opposed to the government-regulated banding system, the private sector also offers no such unwavering tiers of salary and guaranteed increments. Also, while the promise of better pay in private institutions is as simple as asking for one, the secure band system also means that the public sector does not invite the same freedom.
  • Benefits - While the public sector has fixed benefits that it offers according to the band you are inducted into, the private sector has no such limits. Hence, your benefits such as holidays, maternity and paternity leaves, additional pay and more are completely negotiable and flexible in the private sector.

Now, let’s explore the UK govts regulated pay system, devised by the NHS.

The NHS Pay System

The National Health Service is a government-led healthcare body. It is the biggest employer of nurses and other workers in the industry.

The pay system of the NHS works in tiers, also known as Bands. The lowest is Band 1, and the highest is Band 9.

The UK's NHS Band System Explained

The band system determines the salary that nurses in the UK receive. It is a simple system which determines pay based on the skills and experience of the nurse. 

  • Band 1: It is the starting level of pay bands. It includes roles such as assistants and other supporting personnel, which do not require extensive qualifications. 
  • Band 2: There are certain administrative staff that belong to Band 2. They include lower-level healthcare assistants and administrators. 
  • Band 3: Individuals under band 3 are in more vital roles. People in this role are more qualified & skilled. Senior assistants and other support workers belong to these roles. 
  • Band 4: Band 4 requires more experience and is reserved for special staff. They include technicians and other such staff.

Band 5: The Starting Point for Registered Nurses

Band 5 is the starting point for Registered Nurses, midwives and other staff. 

As the Bands go up, roles and responsibilities will change. From advanced practitioners to ward managers to team leaders, there are roles for every Band. 

Now, let us talk about the salary averages in Band 5 for nurses in the UK.

What is the Starting Salary for Nurses in the UK?

Detailed breakdown of the average starting salary for nurses

For newly qualified nurses, the starting salary for nurses in the UK is £26,000 per year. 

Let us now look at a detailed analysis of the pay system. 

Factors included in a nurse’s income are -

  • Additional hours/Overtime
  • Pension
  • Study leaves
  • Counselling
  • NHS discounts

Influences on the Starting Salary

The effect of a university degree vs. a nursing diploma on starting salary

There are several factors which affect the annual pay of every nurse. Educational qualifications are one of these factors. 

A B.Sc in Nursing and an associate degree or diploma can affect your pay. But the pay range for both of these candidates is similar.

How nursing specialisations can affect starting pay

Specialisations which go beyond your education can affect your starting pay.

  • Nurse Practitioner - Specially trained nurses with specific roles and skills. 
  • Nurse Midwife - Nurses trained to care for expecting mothers. This is during and after the pregnancy.
  • Nurse Educator - The role of a Nurse Educator is to mentor young nurses, in class or on the field. 

Additional Benefits of Nursing in the UK

Introduction to Shift Allowances and Overtime Pay

Your NHS salary also includes additional benefits. These are - 

Shift allowances - These are added payments for staff members who work shifts apart from their standard hours. The shift allowance can vary based on extra hours worked. 

Overtime pay - Overtime pay is a standard extra payment for additional hours worked. This includes hours on weekdays as well as weekends and other holidays. 

This can also vary based on extra time worked. 

Pension Schemes 

Pension schemes are standard policies to take care of a working professional in cases of retirement, by choice or by accident. The NHS’s Pension Scheme, for example, is a pension plan for medical staff in the UK. This plan provides benefits when staff members decide to retire from service. 

Salary Growth and Career Progress

The NHS salary system allows for consistent growth if you prove your worth to your hospital. 

Salary increase with experience

As you gain more experience and skills during your career, your salary will increase to complement it. 

  • As with any role, your salary will only increase with your value to the organization that you work at. Here are a few tips to guide you along the way. 
  • Your work ethic and performance are the single most important thing along the journey to achieve recognition and better pay for your work. Your dedication towards your work, your superiors, your team and your subordinates will make a difference in deciding your pay in any sector and any role.
  • A positive and proactive nature is also a great thing to have. If you are optimistic along with being a good performer, cordial with your team and compassionate towards your patient, your value as a worker will be noticed. 

And if you believe you are already bringing these factors into consideration, let’s talk about how you can yourself negotiate a salary increase!

  • Show Your Expertise - Your value to your organisation increases manifold if your education, qualifications, work experience and everyday performance are top notch. Alongside that, mention your achievements with the organisation with respect to your field and performance. 
  • Do Diligent Research - Finding out about the average salary in your role, your industry and your sector will take extensive research. Contact and make connections with your colleagues and use websites like Glassdoor for any available baseline pay you can find.
  • Set Your Targets - Make sure that your salary requirement is both achievable and realistic with regards to your value and the baseline pay. Put forth these requirements as a written or verbal request to the authority presiding over these matters.

And that’s it! Any good organisation will be willing to meet well-researched and organised demands. In the event that your request is rejected, you can always discuss the same with your organisation or find one that respects both your work and salary requirements.

Role of Continuous Development in Salary Advancement

Continuing Education Programs: Hospitals often provide access to continuing education programs that allow nurses to enhance their skills and stay current with best practices in healthcare.

Certification Support: Hospitals may offer financial assistance or other support for nurses pursuing certifications in specialized areas of nursing.

In-House Training: Many healthcare facilities conduct in-house training and workshops to keep their nursing staff updated on the latest techniques and technologies.

Tuition Reimbursement: Some hospitals offer tuition reimbursement or education assistance programs, which can help nurses pursue advanced degrees or further education.

Mentorship and Preceptorship: Nurses may have opportunities to participate in mentorship and preceptorship programs, where experienced nurses guide and support less-experienced colleagues.


Several factors affect the starting salary of Nurses in the UK. We hope that this article has helped you get a better understanding of the system. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Theater Nurses

What factors can affect the starting salary for nurses in the UK?

Factors such as experience, skill and region of practice can affect your salary. 

How does the starting salary vary between different regions in the UK?

The salary varies according to the Band system in England, Scotland and Wales.

How can a nurse increase their starting salary?

Nurses can increase their starting salary by increasing their skill sets and acquiring specialisations.

What additional benefits are included in the starting salary for nurses in the UK?

Additional benefits including pension, study leaves and counselling are included in the starting salary for nurses.

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