As an international medical graduate planning to relocate to the UK and work for the NHS, you likely have many questions. Many of those questions will be about how much you’ll get paid. The amount matters a lot – it will determine your lifestyle!
Fortunately, the NHS has a set system to work out all NHS employee’s salaries. It is based on particular calculations. It might initially seem complicated, but this system ensures everyone receives fair pay.
First, you need to understand that every NHS employee (including doctors) gets put on a pay scale. Your employer will determine your pay scale in your employee contract, and it dictates your basic salary and how much you’ll receive for additional work. It’s important to note that salaries can still differ between job titles – someone else might earn more or less than you depending on which hospital they work at, which pay scale they are on, their personal experience and background as well as the rota that they work. Comparing yourself to others when it comes to NHS pay packages is like comparing apples with oranges!
In this article, we will go into what pay scale you can expect to be a part of as an NHS doctor and the calculations that determine your salary.
Your job title will determine the pay scale you’ll get. Where you fall on the specific pay scale usually depends on your experience. As an IMG, you might have to show evidence of your experience in order to start higher up on a pay scale and receive a higher salary. Here are the pay scales for NHS doctors, including the calculations they use:
In the 2016 NHS Junior Doctor Pay Scale, your salary is based on your grade code, assigned as a nodal point. Titles like Foundation Doctor are given a grade code ‘MF01’ and whilst core trainees and specialty registrars use the code ‘MC01’ and ‘MS01’ with the final number determining the year of training. Note that years of experience are irrelevant on this scale and the basic salary is purely based on your title.
This pay scale involves large increments that don’t happen as often but reflects a much fairer approach to being paid for the hours you actually work. Here is how it gets calculated:
Total Salary = Basic Salary + Additional Hours + Enhanced Hours + Weekend Allowance + On Call Allowance
Here is how the hours outside of your basic salary get calculated:
The 2002 NHS Junior Doctor Pay Scale is the pay scale used before the 2016 one came into place. That means it’s not open to new entrants and is increasingly less popular for employers. However, some hospitals still use this scheme when replacing doctors into older vacancies, so we’ve included it.
The 2002 NHS Junior Doctor Pay Scale is based on your years of experience and your grade. The basic salary is given a grade code such as MN15 for an FY2 doctor or MN37 for a Specialty Registrar. Consideration is then given to years of experience so a registrar with 5 years would be given the grade code MN37-5 and corresponding salary from the scale.
Total salary also includes an extra element known as banding. Here is the calculation:
Total Salary = Basic Salary + (% banding supplement x Basic Bay)
Banding is a unique term to the 2002 NHS Junior Doctor Pay Scale. The banding is a percentage uplift, which takes into account the number of hours worked and the nature of those hours. For example, antisocial hours receive a higher uplift than the least antisocial hours. Since UK law restricts working hours to a maximum of 48 average weekly the most commonly used bands are 1A (40-48 hours, mostly antisocial) and 1B (40-48 hours, moderately antisocial. For 1A you’ll get a 50% uplift and for 1B it’ll be a 40% uplift on your basic salary.
The 2021 NHS Speciality Doctor Pay Scale covers the equivalent of ST3 level through to consultant and basic salary is based on years of experience. The entry point is MC75-01 and at this point it would be assumed you had completed at least foundation and core levels. If you’re unsure how many years you will have recognised because your experience is partly overseas then, as a rule, deduct at least 4 from your total years since graduating medical school to account for those early training years.
You may also receive uplifts in the form of additional PA’s with the total salary calculation as follows:
Total Salary = Basic Salary + Additional PAs
Additional PAs are programmed activities that fall outside the standard 10 PAs that make up the basic salary. One PA equals a four-hour work block. So, if you worked 11 PAs, your total hours would add up to 44 that week. Every additional PA gets an uplift of 10%.
The 2021 NHS Specialist Doctor Pay Scale focuses on years of experience too. Since it is a new scale very few doctors are placed above the bottom point (MC70-01) as new entrants. If you have lots of experience as a Specialist or Consultant in your home country it might be considered, however you must reflect that in evidence provided to the NHS.
The calculation for the 2021 NHS Specialist Doctor Pay Scale is as follows:
Total Salary = Basic Salary + Additional PA’s + On Call Allowance
Additional PAs are four-hour blocks of work. You work 10 PAs for your basic salary. Any extra PAs then get a 10% uplift. On-calls also get an uplift of 1-8% - the number depends on how often the calls happen and the type of call (on-site or telephone based).
This pay scale is only for consultants and is based on years of experience at Consultant level. There are two pay codes known as YC72 for Substantive Consultants and YC73 for Locum Consultants. Again, you’ll need to provide evidence if you have years of consultant experience outside of the NHS. The calculation is as follows:
Total Salary = Basic Salary + Additional PA’s
On top of your basic salary, which is made up of 10 programmed activities, you also get paid a 10% uplift for any additional PAs you do in the week. Each PA counts for four hours. So you might work 12 PAs one week, getting your basic salary for 10 of them, and then receive a 20% uplift for those additional 8 hours.
You should know how your salary gets calculated as an NHS doctor (or aspiring NHS doctor). As soon as you get put on a pay scale, get familiar with the calculations and how it works. That way, you’ll know how much you earn each month, whether you’re putting in extra hours for on-calls or additional weekend work.
If you’re unsure about job titles, pay scales and your options for working in the NHS then reach out to us and we’ll be happy to support and guide you throughout your search whilst updating you with all the best job opportunities from around the NHS.
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