Live and work in the UK as a nurse

Cars parked outside a NHS hospital

If you’re researching how to emigrate to the UK as a health professional such as a care worker, doctor or nurse, you have found the right place. Health professionals are in high demand in the UK and even has its own visa, the Health and Care Worker visa. The UK government has set a target for 50,000 more nurses by 2024 in England alone, one of the ways to do this is to attract international talent. The National Health Service (NHS) is the largest employer in the UK with over 1 million staff, many of which were born abroad.

How we can help

The first thing to know is we are your feet on the ground in the UK and will help you find employment within the NHS . Applying for NHS jobs overseas will be more difficult as the hiring manager will often see this as a risk due to relocating costs, potential visa issues and the requirement of the vacancy to be filled quickly. We can speak to recruitment managers in your behalf after building up your CV and identifying which job role is most suitable in the NHS based on your skills and experience. We then do the leg work finding a potential position for you.

Why choose the UK

The UK is the sixth largest economy in the world and attracts many professionals and graduates from across the world, there are many cities in the UK with great employment prospect’s. Working conditions and salaries are high in the UK with paid holidays, free healthcare and paid maternity. The NHS works on a grading system known as bands, this is to show a clear progression path and ensures fair rates of pay across the organisation. To move up this system you have to perform well and ensure you take up any training and development opportunities.

What to expect as a nurse in the UK

Entry level graduates or overseas applicants will most likely enter the NHS as a Band 5 nurse, this is to gain experience working in a British hospital. As of 2022, the starting salary for a nurse in band 5 is £25,655, after 4 years this increases to £31,534. This does not include extra pay for working unsociable hours such as weekends and night shifts.

You will also be entitled to a minimum of 27 paid holidays per year alongside 8 bank holidays, if you work a bank holiday you will be entitled to extra pay. Maternity with the NHS includes 2 months full pay guaranteed, 7 months of at least half pay and an option for another 3 months unpaid without effecting your career.

Typically nurses work 12 hour shifts, usually 07.00 to 19.00 or 19.00 to 07.00, but this varies by role and hospital. Band 6’s and above who are at managerial level, tend to work Monday to Friday 09.00 to 17.00. Both bands contain a unpaid lunch hour.

Process of becoming a nurse

Any nurse whether trained in the UK or overseas, is required to register with the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC). This is to ensure a minimum standard of quality care for the patients within the UK, it is the professional regulator for Nurses and provide guidance throughout your career. The total cost of registering with the NMC is £1,170 as of March 2022, this includes registration fees and sitting all exams. You will find more information on this process here, you should give yourselves around 6 months to register and pass all tests.

You will need to prove you have a minimum standard of English before you apply for jobs, you can achieve this by passing a Secure English Language Test (SELT). We can help you with this by preparing you with mock exams and resources, please see our Language Test page.

If you are a citizen of any of the below nations you are exempt from SELT automatically.

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Malta
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

Finding a job

Finding a job in the NHS can be a relatively straight forward process, but you have to be flexible with your preferences from location to job role. The NHS Careers website is the best place to find vacancies, you will have to create a profile before applying for jobs. Alongside this, we have contacts at a few hospitals and medical centres around the UK that may have opening that match your what your looking for. We do not recommend agencies.

Applying for the visa

Visit our Health and Care Worker Visa page for more information. We will help you every step of the way from helping you with your application, to finding a city and hospital to work in.

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