Steve Barclay’s figure for new nurses’ pay includes extra earnings

25 November 2022
What was claimed

A newly qualified nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year.

Our verdict

This figure includes extra earnings, such as overtime and unsocial hours pay. Basic pay for a newly qualified nurse this year would be about £27,000.

A newly qualified nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year.

The health secretary Steve Barclay said on Twitter this morning that the government’s most recent pay rise for nurses means that a newly qualified nurse will typically earn over £31,000 a year.

As health is devolved, Mr Barclay’s remit extends to England only. 

His comments were disputed by several Twitter users, who replied claiming that the starting salary for a newly qualified nurse is just over £27,000, which is true in England.

Nurses’ pay is in the news following the announcement of a nursing strike in the NHS across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

Full Fact contacted the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which told us that Mr Barclay’s figure was an estimate that included both basic pay and additional earnings, which covers things like overtime, unsocial hours pay and supplements for those in high cost areas (for example, people who live in London). 

This is based on published data from NHS Digital on nurses’ and health visitors’ average basic pay and total earnings in England in 2021/22.

Mr Barclay has previously used the figure in an opinion article in the Sunday Telegraph (which was also reprinted on the DHSC website), explaining that it included “overtime and unsocial hours”, but his tweet did not include this caveat. 

The figure also appears in a DHSC media factsheet, which says: “Full-time basic pay for newly qualified nurses starting at the bottom of Band 5 will increase by £1,400, equivalent to nearly 5.5%, to £27,055 from £25,655 last year. This means they will typically earn over £31,000 a year including overtime and unsocial hours payments.”

According to evidence received by the NHS Pay Review Body, it is also common for nurses to work unpaid overtime. 

The latest report said: “Data from the Royal College of Nursing Employment Survey found that 77% of members said they work beyond their contracted hours at least once a week, and more than half (53%) of nursing staff reported the additional hours were unpaid.”

DHSC has in the past also cited “nurses’ pay” figures without including additional earnings. 

Image courtesy of SJ Objio 

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