What NHS employee benefits can I expect?

  • April 10, 2020

Salary & employee benefits are important considerations when applying for jobs in the NHS.

The NHS is one of the most developed health systems in the world and doctors form an integral part of delivering high quality patient care. As such doctors are rewarded with competitive pay rates and benefits, some of which will not be afforded to you in other countries across the world. In this article we will discuss the NHS employee benefits, covering the following topics: 

The doctor salary package in the UK, including benefits, can as a whole, make working for the NHS an attraction for many overseas doctors.

Whatever grade or specialty you join, you will become an integral part of the NHS and as such enjoy one of the most competitive packages offered by a UK employer. 

Everyone who works in the NHS is guaranteed an annual salary matched to their role, and even better are afforded the opportunity to increase this year on year through additional responsibilities and training & development. 

All staff will receive an attractive annual leave package in addition to a range of benefits. 

Annual leave:

You are entitled to be paid annual leave every year, the amount of annual leave you receive will increase depending on your level of service within the NHS. 

You will also receive an additional 8 days of bank holidays. 

The longer you work in the NHS, the more annual leave you get. 

The table below summarises the current entitlement:

Length of service

Annual leave entitlement

0-5 years

27 days + 8 days bank holidays

After 5 years

29 days + 8 days bank holidays

After 10 years

33 days + 8 days bank holidays

Pay enhancements: 

Pay enhancements reward out of hours working, shifts, overtime and on calls. This means that you can enhance your take home pay each month. 

Personal development & career progression: 

Each member of staff is given an annual review focused on their own progress and development designed to support their career aspirations. 

Sick leave:

Sick days will not be deducted from your annual leave days. If you are unfortunate enough to get sick during annual leave, you may also be able to claim it back so you can use the annual leave another time.

Maternity leave:

Regardless of how long you’ve been working in the NHS, all pregnant employees are entitled to 1-year maternity leave. It is illegal for your employer to fire you during this time. Depending on how long you’ve been working in the NHS during pregnancy, you may also be entitled to maternity pay.

Paternity leave:

Fathers are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave. This applies to same-sex partners as well as nominated carers for single mothers. 

Shared parental leave: 

The 1-year maternity leave can in some cases be shared between the parents.

Parental leave: 

You are also entitled to 18 weeks parental leave for each child until your child reaches 18 years of age. 

Some weeks may be paid but most of this leave is unpaid. 

This is particularly useful for IMGs as it can be used for various things to ensure that your family is cared for and settled into life in the UK. For example, you can take agreed parental leave for things such as helping your child settle into school, if sick, staying with them in hospital, or just to spend more time with your children when you feel it is necessary.

NHS pension

The NHS Pension is a good scheme when compared with other private pensions available both in the UK and worldwide. In the current financial market, we have found it hard to find a better one, it is generous and an excellent package overall. 

All new permanent employees are automatically enrolled in the NHS Pension scheme. 

NHS discounts

A useful range of discounts for NHS employees are available with many shops and services. Don’t forget to ask any shop, restaurant, hotel or any service whether they offer discounts to NHS employees. You will be pleasantly surprised how many do, and can save a lot of money when taking holiday breaks in the UK, or shopping trips. 

Doctors in training:

Doctors in training will receive the following additional benefits:

Study leave:

Trainees from FY2 and above will have an entitlement to receive paid study leave. For trainees this is usually 30 days per year with the majority allocated to compulsory teaching sessions provided by the training programme, and 10 days for the trainee to decide what to do with.

Study budget:

Trainees will have access to a small amount of money to attend courses and conferences. It usually does not cover all the expenses, but it undoubtedly helps. 

Study sessions:

It is important to note that this is not the same as study leave, instead trainees will have a half day or 2 half days a week for study which can be used to work on audits, presentations, publications and research.

Most IMGs typically use study leave to attend courses, conferences, and study for exams.

Part-time training:

If you need to reduce your hours in order to balance work and other commitments like caring for children or an elderly family member, you can request to complete your training part-time. This is known as “less than full time training” or LTFT training.  

The least you can work is 50%, remember this will mean you will take twice as long to complete your training. 

Your annual pay with LTFT training will be considerably less than a full-time job. For IMGs it is important to note that this may have implications whilst working on a Tier 2 visa where you generally need to earn more than £30,000 per year.

For the full terms and conditions of working in the NHS, please read through the employee handbook.

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