Doctor jobs & their NHS salaries

  • April 10, 2020

There are many different grades of doctors with respective pay sacles in the NHS.

The following is a brief overview of the different types of doctor, their pay and roles they fulfill within the UK's National Health Service and in this article we will look at the following:

Designations of UK doctors:

Other than for medical students, all doctors we list below are medically qualified and can use the title Dr before their name.  For historical reasons in the UK, surgeons may use the title ‘Mr’, ‘Mrs’, ‘Miss’ or ‘Ms’. A doctor that is a university professor may also use the title ‘Professor’ instead of ‘Dr’.

Medical students:

Medical students usually undertake a five-year course of study for undergraduate or a four-year postgraduate course to become a doctor. 

Two years studying basic medical sciences is followed by three years more clinically focused training, during which they will work in hospital wards under the supervision of consultants. 

Following completion of their medical degree, newly qualified doctors gain provisional registration with the GMC. They will receive their primary medical qualification which is typically denoted in the UK by either: MBBS, MBChB, BM, MB BCh.

Junior doctors: 

Medical graduates enter the medical workforce as junior doctors. They are employed on a national negotiated contract on a two-year work-based training programme known as the Foundation Programme. The Foundation Programme is the first level of clinical training for a qualified doctor, bridging the gap between medical school and Specialty Training.

The Foundation Programme is carried out in hospitals over two years which are referred to as FY1 and FY2. Upon completion of FY1, a doctor will gain full registration with the GMC.

Completion of FY2 allows doctors to apply for further study and training in a specialised area of medicine, known as Specialty Training. Doctors enter Specialty Training at ST1 and the length and type of training will depend on the specialty chosen – specialist training can take up to eight years. 

In the most junior hospital trainee post of Foundation Year 1 (FY1) your basic salary is £27,689. In year two this increases to £32,050

If you are a doctor starting your Specialty Training in 2019, your basic salary starts at £37,935 and can progress to £48,075.

Staff Grade, Associate Specialist and Specialty Doctors (SAS Doctors):

SAS doctors are in non-training roles where the doctor has at least four years of postgraduate training, two of which being in a relevant specialty (FY1, FY2 and two years specialist training). This means doctors can move into these posts at various levels of experience and seniority whilst also gaining experience and promotion within the grade itself.

SAS doctors are typically more focused on meeting service requirements when compared to trainee or consultant roles. Often, they have considerably fewer administrative duties when compared to consultants and can have very ‘hands on’ roles with lots of patient contact. Specialty doctors currently earn from £40,037 to £74,661 basic pay. As an overseas doctor, there are many factors that will determine where on this pay scale an HR department places you, so it is hard to provide one general rule to help you estimate what salary you might be eligible for.

Whilst the titles staff grade, specialty doctor and associate specialist are all commonly used, recent changes to terminology means that all SAS doctors are now on Specialty Doctor contracts. 



Consultants are senior doctors that have completed full specialist medical training in a specialised area of medicine and are listed on the GMC’s specialist register, gaining the accreditation CCT. Doctors can also meet the criteria for specialist registration via the CESR route, consider your eligibiiity for CESR here.

Consultants have clinical and administrative responsibilities in managing SAS and junior doctors.

Consultants currently earn from £79,860 to £107,668 basic pay and as an international doctor, your years' completed as a consultant will place you on this scale.

Trust doctors:

Trust doctors in the NHS are employed for service posts, and trust doctor is a term applied to a doctor who is working in the NHS in a non-training post. Trust doctor jobs in the NHS cover a range of grades and apply to all specialities. 

Typically, the title trust doctor is applied to a doctor working at Senior House Level (FY1 & 2), however the term has now become synonymous with all grades. It is now a term most commonly applied to doctors from FY1 to ST3 but can be applied to specialty doctors by some trusts. 

Many of the doctors accepting service posts are from overseas as this can be a quick way to enter the NHS system and start your career in the UK.

Trust doctor posts also offer very competitive rates, so whilst you are getting to know the NHS and settling into life in the UK, you can also ensure that you are financially rewarded.

Locum Doctors:

Locums doctors are fully qualified doctors who temporarily cover a position, often covering things like sick leave or maternity. All doctors can work as a locum aside from FY1 doctors and it can be done via an agency or NHS locum post. Overseas consultants not yet on the specialist register can apply for locum consultant positions, not substantive.

Academic Doctors:

Academic doctors often combine clinical care with teaching and research, doing so to develop the science of medicine. They can be any grade of doctor from an FY2 to a consultant, GP or SAS doctor. Common academic job titles, in order of seniority are:

  • Prof Professor
  • CSL Senior Clinical Lecturer / Associate Professor
  • CRF Clinical Research Fellow
  • CL Clinical Lecturer 
  • ACF Academic Clinical Fellow

Pay and Conditions Circulars:

Current national salary scales for all medical and dental staff are published in pay and conditions circulars on the NHS Employers website

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