All You Need To Know About Locum Salary For Nurses in the UK

All You Need To Know About Locum Salary For Nurses in the UK

Updated · 7 min reading

Google 'Nursing Pay' and the internet will report back a whole range of numbers. So which results show the right pay? That is dependent on what exactly your role is. In this article, we will shed some light on what you might expect to earn. 

A Modern History of Nurse Salary in UK

Between 2010 and 2015, average NHS Nursing salaries increased by just over 2%. 

This was followed by a fixed 1% pay rise between 2015 and 2017, the famed ‘pay cap’. From 2018 to the end of March 2021, The New Pay Deal was implemented, with salaries increasing across the board. In July 2021, a 3% pay rise was announced for NHS Nurses and back-dated to April. This was shortly followed by a second back-dated pay increase in July 2022. 

Sounds good, right? 

Well, these stats don't fully explain the right pay for nursing in a healthcare system as large and varied as the UK's. How does private sector pay compare? Can working on a staff bank or via agencies significantly boost take-home salaries? How much is unsocial hours pay in NHS? Does the famous NHS pension make everything else worth it? 

Nursing has the potential to offer great career flexibility, and that includes pay too. Nurses have increasingly used staff banks and agencies to increase their earnings and manage their schedules. It’s worth mentioning that the average bank nurse pay in the UK is currently around £38,000. =For students and aspiring nurses, understanding these additional factors is vital when planning your future.

Our guide to Nursing salaries, bandings, and pay hopes to bring clarity to this complex and sometimes controversial subject. Keep reading, and Bemlo will provide you with simple facts, insider tips, and straightforward guidance on all the key factors affecting what nurses earn.

How Much Is The Average Nurse Salary in the UK for 2023? 

This is a commonly asked question that may have brought you to our blog - how much does the average nurse earn? It’s something everyone, from those considering a nursing career to veteran nurses outside of the UK, is eager to understand. However, finding an ‘average’ is tricky for several reasons. 

In the UK, nurses can work in the NHS or the private sector, and pay can vary greatly between them. Even within the NHS, pay varies according to experience, professional development, and location.

Traditional job boards and recruitment sites that track the salaries of jobs they post suggest the average salary of a UK Nurse is around the £33,000 to £35,000 a year mark. 

Over 50% of Adult Nurses are aged between 41 and 60. Whilst people train in their 40s and beyond, the vast majority of newly qualified Nurses are under 30 years old. 

That indicates that the average Nurse has several years of experience under their belt, which corresponds with the £33,000 to £35,000 range. 

In 2018, The Royal College of Nursing calculated the average weekly pay for an NHS Nurse as £642, equating to an annual figure of £33,384, which is in line with the above range. There are some specialties that lie outside of this, for example an A&E nurse salary in UK is around £42,000 per year.

Whilst this doesn't account for private sector pay, the vast majority of Nurses work in the NHS, so this figure seems the most reliable available. Furthermore, grade 1-6 scale figures in the UK start from around £20,000 and can go up to £33,000. As you progress to the 7/8ths scale figures can cross £40,000.

Entry level pay£20,270£21,730£23,949£27,055£33,706£44,659£48,526£56,164£67,064£79,592£95,135
Intermediate level pay---£29,180£35,572£43,806-----
Top level pay£21,318£23,177£26,282£32,934£40,588£47,672£54,619£65,262£77,274£91,787£109,475

Our Nurses's Pay Table is based on NHS Employers' NHS Pay Scales and Bands in England for 2022 to 2023.

Private And Public Sector Nurse Salary

While NHS pay for nurses is very clearly structured, salaries in the private health and social care sectors can vary wildly. 

To start off, many private sector nurses will work for a variety of organisations including private healthcare providers, schools and charities, and will typically negotiate their salaries on a case-by-case base. As in most other industries, these jobs are oftern advertised without clearly defined salary ranges, or will carry a tagline of ‘salary dependent on experience’. 

As a result, the private vs NHS pay debate is an impossible one to solve. Put simply, some private sector nurses will earn more than in the NHS and some less. Despite this, it’s worth mentioning that unsociable hours in NHSpay is up to 60% on Sundays and holidays.

When deciding which sector you'd like to work in, it's best to consider the other factors surrounding this debate and, most importantly, what kind of person you are. The NHS offers stability and reliability. The salary bandings and benefits are clearly defined, and unlikely to change without ample warning. You know exactly where you are with an NHS job, and what your progression will look like.

On the converse, a private Nursing job will operate differently altogether. While you might hit a banding ceiling at the NHS, the same constraints won’t necessarily apply in the private sector. Just like the rest of the UK’s private sector workers, if you feel that you’re worth more than you are being paid, you can walk into your boss’ office and ask for more. Having said this, nothing is guaranteed and you will not receive the benefit of assured incremental or government rises. However, to understand the benefits of being an NHS Nurse, you really need to be aware of the whole package.

What Are The Wider Benefits Of Being An NHS Nurse? 

Being an NHS Nurse comes with some benefits that can be hard for private companies to compete with. These can potentially have a very significant impact on your financial wellbeing in both the short and long term. Some of the best include:

What Are The Differences Between Agency and Bank Nurse Pay?

Permanent nurses often work alongside agency nurses on particular shifts and quickly catch on that their hourly rate far exceeds their own. From this, a conclusion that is quickly jumped to is I’d earn more as an agency nurse. And this isn’t necessarily the case. Recent data has shown that Next Step Nursing pay rates can be around £550 per shift, and Nurse Plus agency pay rates can be around £27 per hour.

While an agency rate is typically higher, agency nurses don’t get sick pay or annual leave. Furthermore, there is no guarantee of work, and if you want to work consistently, you might be forced to work in locations or disciplines you’d prefer not to. Plus, ‘agency caps’ are being applied to trusts across the country, threatening the number of agency nurses each trust can use. 

So pay, in this instance, really is about more than money. However, being an agency nurse can pay off for the right person. The most successful agency nurses cast their nets widely. They might register for bank work at two neighbouring trusts and then with a Nursing agency too. As a result, they have to be open to a wide variety of opportunities, working in hospitals, medical centres, prisons or schools from one day to the next. But if you’re a Nurse looking to build experience and try out other disciplines, this can all work in your favour – all whilst boosting your pay packet. 

The Bottom Line 

The key to increasing your pay is understanding the kind of person you are and the kind of Nurse you want to be. Both ways of working can be financially rewarding if you approach them correctly. And you can, of course, switch whenever necessary – as a qualified Nurse, permanent, NHS, private, agency and bank work is all at your disposal. It’s preeminent to mention that payments for both a bank and agency nurse depend on your speciality. Maternity nurse salary in the UK is currently around £31,000 per year. On the other hand, a nurse practitioner salary in London is around £37,000 per year.

How Can I Increase Agency or Bank Nurse Pay? 

In the long term, it’s certainly true that maximising your income from Nursing will rely heavily on the experience you gain, the skills you develop and the qualifications you accumulate. Recent data suggest that chief nurse jobs can pay around £80,000 annually.

7 Tips To Boost Your Pay Packet

There are various ways of earning extra money and many techniques to boost your pay packet throughout your career. Some of them include the following:

  • Choosing evening, weekend and bank holiday shifts where possible as these are paid at enhanced rates.

  • Taking extra shifts by registering with your trust’s in-house bank. 

  • Taking risks by working in different disciplines, different areas and different trusts – as is the case in any job, there is huge value not only in building up a wide range of experience but also a wide range of contacts.

  • Working as an agency Nurse, sign up to multiple banks and agencies to keep your options open and get more shifts.

  • Using training courses provided through a trust or an agency. These skills will be vital in moving up within your banding or negotiating a salary increase.

  • Checking your payslips and timesheets carefully. Mistaken overpayments are not uncommon, and a refund is often demanded immediately. So having clear proof of what you have or haven’t been paid is essential.

  • Being entrepreneurial and open-minded. 

Are there some less conventional ways of making money? Could you, for example, offer tutoring to Nursing students? Your skills and knowledge are valuable – so think of other ways of utilising them. 

Final Thoughts 

Statistics have shown that the average nursing pay in the UK increased by just 2% from 2010 to 2015. In addition, NHS nurses did receive two pay increases in 2021 and 2022. In view of such statistics, it can be stated that the average nurse in the UK earns around £35,000. In addition, bank nurse pay in the UK is expected to be £38,000. Maximising your income from nursing relies heavily upon the experience, skills, and qualifications gained throughout your career. 

However, there are several things that you can do to increase your pay and progress in your career at the same time. Some extra measures you can take to increase your pay include working on the weekends and being available for holiday shifts. In addition, nurses can take training courses offered by trusts and agencies to update skills within their banding and negotiate higher pay. 

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