What Are The NHS Bands?

04 December 2023 By Mike Bowyer

The NHS banding system for pay was created as part of the ‘Agenda for Change’ in 2004 and was implemented to ensure that there was a clear system for nursing pay scales. The various different bands and pay rates depend on several factors including the type of role, the number of years of experience, and whether or not you live in a high-cost area (such as London). There is opportunity to work your way up through the scale through gaining work experience and further education, and the banding system means that each NHS nursing role is justifiably paid based on the skills and qualifications gained to allow a clear progression path for everyone.

We’ve put together a guide to help explain NHS banding and pay scales, as well as answering any questions or queries that you might have.

What are the NHS bands?

Any position or role within the NHS comes with an attached band, and bands are mostly consistent throughout the NIHS, with nurses, clerical, ancillary staff, maintenance, and janitorial team all pay calculated against the same system. There are 9 bands in total, and these are split into sub-bands (e.g. band 7a, 7b, 7c etc.). The bands do not represent flat salaries, rather they reflect tiers and scales within each band. If you are looking for NHS job vacancies then they often advertise details of the band rather than an actual salary. This pay system does not include doctors, and doctors, dentists and senior managers have their own pay scale outside of the NHS banding system.

How is the pay scale and salary created?

There are several different factors that the NHS will take into consideration when calculating which salary you will receive. Cleaner, porters, and healthcare assistants typically start on band 2, while newly qualified nurses, paramedics, and midwives start on band 5. Band 6 and above tends to be management, and band 8 is upper management. Band 9 is exclusively reserved for senior managers. Each of the 9 bands has a number of pay points, and staff will normally progress onto the next pay point annually until they reach the top of the pay band. For nurses working through the banding system, you will expect to receive healthy pay increases and benefits, and the opportunity to move up a band following relevant training.

What are the bands?

Band 2 – Healthcare Assistant

A Healthcare Assistant (HCA) is one of the most vital roles within the NHS, and they deliver the initial care to patients across a variety of settings including GP surgeries, hospitals, and care homes. They are the first point of contact for many patients and their work is varied whilst looking after the physical comfort of patients.

Band 3 – Emergency Care Assistant

An Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) is a crucial role and that requires you to be extremely vigilant as you will be offering care to patients who need immediate and crucial attention. This role normally includes working with the ambulance service or in the emergency room, and you will be responsible for potentially life saving treatment.

Band 4 – Theatre Support Worker

A Theatre Support Worker will assist and support the surgical team. You will take responsibility for patients on the trolleys and work closely with the doctors who are performing surgery on patients. In addition to this, you will prepare patients for anaesthetics and set up instruments and equipment to make the procedure run smoothly.

Band 5 – Newly qualified nurse or staff nurse

As a newly qualified nurse you will often start in a hospital setting and then progress within a ward, gaining more experience to move up the NHS banding system. Most wards will have a clear progression from the start to help you plan and prepare your training and qualifications. Training opportunities will be essential to help you move forward, and to give you the correct skills required to complete your job role confidently, while providing the highest level of care.

Band 6 – Nursing specialist or senior nurse

Band 6 will often involve similar job responsibilities to Band 5, however as a nursing specialist or senior nurse you will be qualified. As a band 6 nurse you may be called ‘Junior Sister’, ‘Specialist Staff Nurse’, or ‘Specialist Nurse Practitioner’, and to successfully progress onto band 6 you will need to pursue further training within a certain specialist area.

Band 7 – Advanced Nurse / Nurse Practitioner

Band 7 often requires a master’s level degree or equivalent, with most trusts keen to support their nursing staff in gaining this qualification. Nurses in this band are often known as ‘Senior Sisters’, and the job responsibilities are a significant jump from those in band 6. The most important duties include conducting detailed assessments and making diagnoses and prescribing medicine – very similar to a doctors responsibilities.

Band 8 – Modern Matron, Chief or Head Nurse

In this role, you will be carrying out certain nursing duties as well as managing a large team of nurses. The salary jump is quite significant from band 7, but there is a large increase in duties and longer hours within this role.

Band 9 – Consultant Level Nurse

Band 9 is the most senior position available in a nursing career, and nurses in this position are experts in their field. They help to educate others and will require specialist skills and qualifications, as well as substantial experience. Just like consultants in any other field, consultant nurses will be involved in helping with high level decision making.

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