​Understanding the NHS Payment Bands

By Josh Jezard

​Understanding the NHS Payment Bands

As a leading nursing agency, MedGen offers a sizeable number of temporary nursing shifts and on any given day we have an abundance of long and short-term agency shifts available.

One of the key things that we find is candidates always wanting clarification of the NHS payment bands. The NHS grade most employees according to their level of experience and the qualifications they hold.

The system is unique to the NHS and is known as the Agenda for Change. The system works by allocating a point score to each role within the NHS, which then determines the basic rate of salary for that role, including nurse pay scales.

The pay scales apply to over one million people working for the NHS, working to harmonise pay scales and career progression.

Why introduce the NHS payment bands?

The system was introduced to help ensure "equal pay for work of equal value". The restructure was necessary as it was felt there were often big differences in the grade of an employee and the responsibilities of their role – many of these discrepancies being a consequence of changeable workloads over the years.

By categorising and harmonising, a clearer and fair system that recognised the needs of today’s roles could be implemented.

How do NHS payment bands work?

The Agenda for Change system allocates posts to set pay bands. Band 1 – 9, using the Job Evaluation Scheme. The pay system is designed to:

  1. Deliver fair pay for non-medical staff based on the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value'

  2. Provide better links between pay and career progression using the Knowledge and Skills Framework

  3. Harmonise terms and conditions of service such as annual leave, hours and sick pay, and work done in 'unsocial hours

Nurse placement on the scales

A nurse could be placed anywhere on the scale between 5 and 9. Generally, unregistered staff would work on bands 2 -3, and roles which require qualifications graded 5 – 8.

Grade 9 is for the most senior positions, and although there are no nurse job roles currently in the band there is scope to be included in the future if a role is deemed suitable.

A Healthcare Assistant (HCA) role could be band 2 or 3, dependant on the skill and experience of the individual in the role.

Most qualified nurses at the start of their career would start on band 5.

The roles within nursing would change band, for example:

  • Health visitor = band 6

  • Nurse team leader = band 6

  • Nurse advanced = band 7

  • Modern matron = band 8a

  • Nurse consultant = band 8a-c

Benefits of the NHS payment bands

So what are the benefits of having Agenda for Change in place? Well, there are a number of benefits to nurses and NHS staff.

These are:

  1. Coordinated conditions of service

  2. A fair and transparent system​

  3. Recognition and remuneration for the skills and competencies acquired through career development.

The effect on nurse pay scales

Within each band, there are different pay points. NHS staff move through the points on the scale following annual appraisals, where performance and skills are reviewed against the Knowledge and Skills Framework (KSF).

Employees can normally expect to move one point per year, securing a wage increase each time they do.

If you’re a registered nurse looking for an agency that can offer you better pay rates than the NHS' nurse pay scale, get in contact with one of our expert recruitment consultants for a confidential chat about the options available to you. As your trusted nursing agency, we are with you day-in day-out and updating regularly update our site with resources, blogs and information to support you.

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