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The Average Salaries of Nurses


This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Anna Fleck


The United Kingdom has seen some of its biggest NHS walkouts in history this year, as healthcare workers call for higher pay amid skyrocketing inflation and difficult working conditions. After years of cuts and the enormous burden of the pandemic, flocks of personnel are leaving the profession due to stress and long working hours while patients face extended waiting times.


According to SkyNews analysis, medical staff are now earning less than in 2010, with nurses and health visitors receiving 10.2 percent less, while doctors in training are earning 14.5 percent less. Downing Street said that an increase in pay of 10 percent or more would further exacerbate inflation. However, some headway is seemingly being made as negotiations have been taking place with unions and the government, resulting in several of the planned nurses strikes having been called off. These negotiations have not included junior doctors, whose upcoming strike is still taking place next week.


The following chart shows the average salary for a nurse in various countries, using the latest OECD data, with the purchasing power parity exchange rate used to account for the cost of living differences between countries. The chart does not take into account bonuses paid by governments as remuneration during the Covid pandemic.


Nurses in Luxembourg had the highest average salary in 2020 of the OECD countries, at $103,963 per year. This is roughly double that of nurses in the UK who earned an average of $48,550 when adjusting for the cost of living. Meanwhile, Portugal was among the countries with lower salaries, at $28,848. While the UK’s salaries are not as low as in many other countries, they are lower than other English-speaking nations (the U.S. paid nurses $81,630, Australia paid $70,297 in 2019, Canada paid $58,426, Ireland paid $55,924 and New Zealand paid $54,395).


Digital healthcare platform Qunomedical, who carried out research on the topic, commented: “while hospital nurses, general practitioners and emergency physicians in the UK do earn more than the national average, this does not account for their overtime hours. In 2019, 43.4 percent of NHS workers reported working up to 5 hours of unpaid overtime every week, and these figures are likely to have surged drastically due to the current pandemic.”


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