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The 2016 Nursing Salary List: Which Nurses Make the Most?

nurse salaries

The UK is in the midst of a healthcare staffing crisis, and this has affected nursing salaries.

An ageing population is in need of more care, and this means that the trend toward increasing the ratio of nurses to patients in hospitals has intensified. In fact, the Centre for Workforce Intelligence predicted that in 2016, NHS would face a 47,500 shortfall in nurses.

According the BBC, one reason for the crisis is that as the need for qualified nurses and physicians has grown, the number of trainees has not.

This imbalance of supply and demand has led to an increased reliance on staffing agencies to fill the void and increased salaries for qualified candidates.

Qualified and Valued

To be a nurse in the UK, you must complete a nursing programme or an overseas nursing programme at a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved educational institution. Once you have finished your studies, you must register with the NMC. During your training, you’ll study nursing and participate in clinical practice.

Although it can take up to 15 years for someone to progress from entry-level student to qualified consultant, a full- time nursing programme takes up to four years to complete and this qualifies you to work as a nurse.

What Are UK Nursing Salaries?

If you are lucky enough to have completed this journey, you are now qualified to work as a nurse in the UK and you can expect to earn approximately £22,000 in your first year. Nursing jobs begin on Band 5 in the National Health Service pay system.

But, this salary is just the beginning. With experience and additional qualifications, a nurse in the UK can expect to see better pay and faster advancement.  For instance, if you are employed as a school nurse, you’ll begin in Band 6. Modern matrons and nurse consultants in children’s nursing enter their careers at Band 8a with a starting salary of £40,028. Often, private employers will set a pay scale that mirrors that of the NHS.

In addition to the NHS scales, agencies, and other employers report statistics on average salaries for a variety of nursing specialities. Below are some of the salary ranges that a nurse in the UK can expect to earn, depending on his or her chosen specialty:

Average Pay Rates for Common Nursing Careers

£20,000-£40,000 (RN, Cardiology, Home Care, Dialysis, Mental Health, Neonatal Nurse)

According to, the median salary for a registered nurse (RN) in the UK is £23,000. With bonuses, and other compensation, an RN with less than 20 years of experience may earn up to £34,105. Nurses with more than 20 years of experience can expect to make 15% more than these average amounts.

Some of the highest paid entry-level RNs in 2016 specialized in cardiology. These nurses reported earning up to 18% more than the national average, or around  £40,000 in total compensation, in the PayScale survey.

Nurses specializing in home care and dialysis nurses earned 11% and 9% more than the national average respectively. PayScale reported that the median total compensation for a home care RN in the UK was nearly £38,000 in 2016.

Staffing agency reports indicate that mental health nurses are being hired for a median salary of £40,000. Those who work in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) jobs can expect slightly higher compensation. Neonatal nurses earn a median income of approximately £35,000.

£40,000-£70,000 (ARN, Nurse Researcher, Midwives, Paediatric Endocrinology Orthopaedic, Gerontological NP, and Nurse Commission Managers)

An advanced registered nurse (ARN) will start with a higher average salary than an RN. The national median salary for ARNs is almost £37,000 and a total compensation package of up to £49,768. ARNs with more than 20 years of experience will usually make 6% more than mid-career ARNs. Gerontological nurse practitioners can earn around £45,000 each year.


If you enjoy research, nurse researchers in the UK can earn £40,000 to £50,000 annually. Paediatric endocrinology nurses and orthopaedic nurses command salaries between £37,000 and £45,500. Staffing agency reports indicate that midwives can earn an average of £52,000 annually, and a head of midwifery might earn £70,000. Nurse commission managers can earn a salary of up to £63,000.

An advanced nurse practitioner may earn up to £72,000 each. Certified registered nurse anaesthetists are in particularly high demand and may earn over £70,000 annually. Certified Registered Nurse Anaesthetist (ANP) and Directors of Nursing can make between £70,000 and £100,000

Of course, those who have risen to the top of their field can expect high levels of compensation. According to the NHS, one of the highest paying positions in nursing is being a director of nursing. A director of nursing within the NHS can earn £95,000 annually.

Future Nursing Career Trends

Nurses make up the largest single group of staff employed by the NHS. Nurses in the UK fill many important roles, providing preventive, acute and long-term care. Increasingly, nurses are being hired from abroad and through staffing agencies as positions go unfilled. Predictions of staff shortages indicate the end is not yet in sight. In the next several years, changes in training, staffing levels and scheduling will all need to be considered.

Nursing in Practice recently reported that general practice nurses are an ageing demographic. Demand for primary care services continues to grow. Despite this fact, a limited number of nursing students are finding their way to placements in general practices. If you are at the beginning of your nursing career, this trend represents an opportunity. By joining a general practice now, you’ll receive a range of clinical experiences and fill an important role in the UK’s health care system.

Additional trends in nursing training include a move toward more autonomy and self-reliance for nurses. It is likely that roles such as the Nursing Associate degree will continue to be considered as the government addresses the ongoing healthcare needs of the populace. If you are a citizen of the UK, you may be able to obtain your nursing education free of charge. Check the government’s bursaries page for more details and eligibility requirements.

For those who earn their nursing degree, one thing can be certain—the jobs are out there waiting for you! Your dedication to servicing others will provide you with a lucrative, exciting and fulfilling career. To learn more about a career in nursing or find your next nursing job, just visit us at

Register your CV or research your ideal career path and become a part of the future of healthcare.

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