Nursing – Differences in Roles and Salaries
Making up the largest staff group, nurses play a vital and indispensable role in ensuring the smooth running of the NHS. Nurses fall under four main specialisms; after obtaining a nursing qualification and registering with the Royal College of Nursing, it is usual practice to head into a career in one of these four main areas: adult, learning disability, mental health, and paediatric (children’s).
Adult nurses work with patients of all ages (over 18), and will cover both long and short term conditions. They work anywhere from emergency departments to prisons, and aim to improve patient quality of life across a huge range of health issues.
Nurses who work with patients who have a learning disability help their patients to have a better life both physically and mentally. The main location for these nurses will be around the patient’s home; however there are opportunities in schools, places of leisure and the workplace.
Mental health nurses work with those who have long or short term mental health problems, helping them to control their illness, and assisting them on their journey to recovery. Mental health nurses can be based in a variety of locations such as prisons, care in the community and schools.
Paediatric nurses work with patients under the age of 18, covering both long and short-term health care conditions. They also work with the parents of the child in order to help improve quality of life, and aid towards recovery. Like adult nurses, the locations available are wide ranging, from schools to emergency departments.
All nurses start at a Band 5 pay level once they have reached their qualification, with a starting salary of £21,692 (potentially adjustable depending on working anti-social hours, or living in a high cost area). Many nurses begin their career in a hospital setting, and will progress within the ward. Traditionally, wards have a defined career progression path set in place, with each stage achieved by experience, further training, and clinical knowledge.
Staff nurses - this is the initial grade of a qualified nurse, and will be at a Band 5 salary.
Senior staff nurses - these are more experienced nurses, and are likely to be at a Band 6 salary. Not every NHS Trust carries these positions, and other areas may use different titles such as charge nurses.
Deputy ward manager - starting at a Band 6/7 salary, this position brings with it more responsibility for the overall daily running of the ward.
Ward manager - this nurse has control of the budget of the ward, and is responsible for local management. This position usually starts at Band 7.
Senior ward manager - in larger wards there may be a need to have multiple managers, with one senior. This is usually paid between Bands 6-8c.
The current NHS pay grade scheme can be seen below:
As well as continuing to learn and develop on the job in order to progress along the career path, nurses are required to go through a process of revalidation every 3 years in order to carry on practicing in their field. This process is done via the Nursing and Midwifery Council, and consists of written work and registered practice, as well as elements such as character and health declaration.
The four main areas of career development championed by the NHS are clinical, management, education and research, and it is those headings that most career roles will fall under.
Becoming a specialist nurse
Outside of the traditional nursing career progression, there are many other opportunities to progress into. For example, a qualified adult nurse may be able to move into a specialism such as theatre and recovery or infection control, or may start down the career pathway to working in an educator position. All the initial four specialisms have areas that will be unique, such as eating disorders for mental health nursing or neonatal care for paediatric.
Specialist nurses will have received extra training, as well as experience in their field; for example, a nurse consultant needs to have achieved a Master’s degree.
Specialist nursing is split into roles such as nurse practitioners, who are generally located in GP surgeries and A&E departments, and nurse consultants, who oversee the training and education of those in their ward. Practitioners carry out similar duties to doctors, and work at a very advanced level. District Nurses manage care within certain communities and run whole teams of community nurses and support workers. Management positions are also available in the NHS for nurses; however these may be less ‘hands-on’ than other roles.
There are a huge amount of positions open to nurses under the NHS, and this number is ever increasing with specialisations that reflect a wide range of skills and areas of care.
Specialist nursing roles can be split into roles such as nurse practitioners, who are generally located in GP surgeries, or A&E departments. They carry out similar duties to doctors, and work at a very advanced level. Other roles include nurse consultants, who oversee the training and education of those in their ward or department, and district nurses such as occupational health nurses. Management positions are also available in the NHS for nurses; however these may be fewer hands on than other roles.
There are a huge amount of positions open to nurses under the NHS, and this number is ever increasing.