Anatomy of NHS payslip -- How much do UK Registered Nurses (RGN) get paid?

Updated: May 28, 2020

     It's pay day! You see your net salary at the end of the month reflecting on your hard earned money with overtimes, bank shifts and those weekend night outs and getaways you've missed because you're at work. But have you ever really taken a closer look on your payslip or do you just look on the bottom right hand corner of it to see how much you've been paid? Well, understanding how you are getting paid can guide you about when are the best days to book shifts, how taxes impact your earnings which may help with planning your finances accordingly. 

        NHS salary follows Agenda for Change which is the main pay system for NHS staff excluding doctors, senior managers and dentists. As an overseas nurse, you will start as a Pre-registered nurse on a Band 4 pay scale. Once you've passed the OSCE and NMC has granted your PIN, you can start to work and be paid as a Band 5. Being a newly qualified nurse, you will start on the lowest point of Band 5 pay scale. Salary for a point 1 Band 5 normally starts at £24,907 per year and will increase annually provided you have completed your annual appraisal. To know more details about the updated NHS Salary, please click video.

     Looking at all the numbers in your payslip might be intimidating. But by deeply understanding what those numbers mean, you can spot if there are errors, if you’ve been paid correctly and make better decisions about when to do extra work.

For easy viewing, we have broken down the payslip into 4 parts.

Sample payslip of a RGN in NHS depicting nurse's monthly pay with enhancements and deductions
Band 5 Registered Nurse salary in UK


Assignment Number - First eight digits of your employee number; If you have more than one post, it will be indicated with -2 -3 and so on.

Salary/Wage - this indicates your full salary according to which point you are in the pay scale

Incremental date - shows the date that you will get your annual salary increase until you reached the maximum point

Standard Hrs. - the number of hours you’re contracted to work (37.5 for full time)

PT Salary/Wage - this is the actual salary you get per year according to your contracted hours; pro-rata for part time. 

Tax and NI Information - take note of these figures as you need these if you need to contact HMRC or tax office for any reason.

     Enough of the boring bits. Let’s dive in with the salary dissection. Shall we examine closely how NHS Nurse was paid in March 2020 apart from her basic pay? She is already on top tier Band 5 pay scale and working 31 hours a week. This means she will be paid pro rata according to her contracted hours.


 Actual wage of a RGN in the NHS showing how much does a nurse earn monthly
UK Nurse Salary in the NHS

Basic Pay  

This is your contracted hours per month x hourly rate (depending on your pay scale rate). Full time hours equates to 37.5 hours per week or 150 hours per month. In the UK, employees are paid per hour for the hours that they have worked in a month. So if you work part time at 31 hours, you will be paid pro rata, which means your salary will be in proportion to a full time pay. It just means your hourly rate will still be the same but your salary will be less than a full time staff because you have worked less hours. 

134.70 (contracted hours per month) x £15.39 (hourly rate) = £ 2074.38

Unsocial Hours 

Since nurses work on shifts to care for patients 24/7, unsocial hours such as night shifts, weekends and bank holidays have enhanced payments. This sort of reward for working out of hours can make you earn extra money apart from overtime and bank shifts which we will be tackling shortly. Now, different categories of unsocial hours are paid differently. The pay enhancement is the fixed percentage of the number of hours worked outside the standard working times. Take a look below to see how much enhancement you will get for each shift. 

  • Night shift (any weekday from 8pm to 6am) - 30% of the hours you’ve worked within these hours of the night

  • Saturdays (midnight to midnight) - 30% of the hours you’ve worked Saturday

  • Bank Holiday and Sundays (midnight to midnight) - 60% of the hours you’ve worked on Bank Holiday or Sunday

NHS Nurse worked 23 hours night duty and 39 hours Saturday. First you need to work out the 30% of the number of hours she worked on nights or Saturdays. The products are then multiplied to her hourly rate which will be the enhancement amount. 

  • Night pay

- 23 hrs x 0.30  = 6.90 (unsocial hrs to be paid) --- 6.90hrs x £15.39 (hourly rate)  = £106.26

  • Saturday

- 32 hrs x 0.30 = 9.60 (unsocial hrs to be paid)  --- 9.60 hrs x £15.39 (hourly rate) = £147.84

Let’s take a look for Sunday shifts which have 60% enhancement. It will be the same computation for Bank Holidays as well. 

  • Sunday

- 11 hrs x 0.60 =  6.60 (unsocial hrs to be paid) --- 6.60 hrs x£15.39 (hourly rate) = 101.64


This stands for the Working Time Directive in line with European Union legislation which sets minimum requirements for working hours, rest and annual leave for employees to maintain their health and well-being. The computation can be complicated but there are WTD pay calculators online if you are still curious to know about it. 


Overtime hourly rates usually depend on each Trust or department within it. Some Trust overtime rate is time and a half of the hourly rate. For instance, if she worked 10 hours overtime the computation will be like this and will be then added to her gross pay. 

10 hours x 1.5 = 15 hours ----------15 hours x 15.39 = £230.85

Bank Shifts

You need to join the NHS staff bank in order to work Bank shifts. Again, the hourly rate depends on the budget of the NHS Trust. In some Trusts, bank shift is paid flat rate which means she will get whatever her normal hourly rate is and enhancements depending on the shifts she’s done.  Some NHS Trusts especially in London give better rates for bank shifts but will still be Trust dependent. Bank shifts are normally received on a separate payslip hence you will have a second assignment/ employee number.


All the taxes and deductions that affects how much a nurse gets paid reflecting in the net salary
Deductions in the NHS Payslip

      Now that you have a better understanding of your salary, let’s get into the deductions! Taxes, taxes, taxes. The UK is well known for collecting high tax rates and high cost of living. But these taxes are also the main reason why the NHS survives and other state benefits are in place. 

       To simplify computation for basic rate tax deduction is usually 20% of your gross salary for basic rate taxpayers. If your salary exceeds £40,000, that will have different number crunching process. For now, let’s focus on the 20% tax since starting Band 5s will fall in this bracket.  Bear in mind that this is just a rough guide as tax calculation is complex if you consider other factors such as taxable pay, tax free allowance etc.