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Mental health nurse: Salary and conditions

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  • Nursing pay scales under the National Health Service (NHS) Agenda for Change  are as follows: Band 5 (newly qualified nurse) £21,388 - £27,901; Band 6 (specialist nurse) £25,783 - £34,530; Band 7 (advanced nurse) £30,764 - £40,558; Bands 8 A - C (nurse consultant) £39,239 - £67,805.
  • Extra allowances of 5% to 20% are payable in the London area, depending on the proximity to inner London.
  • Working hours are typically 37.5 hours per week. This may include evenings, weekends and bank holidays. In residential and hospital settings, 24-hour care is usually required, meaning shift work is typical. Nurses working in the community are more likely to have regular hours, although some carry out on-call duties for emergency situations. 
  • The vast majority of mental healthcare is now community based, with some functions provided by healthcare or social care assistants.
  • It is common for mature graduates to enter nursing (including mental health nursing) and many do so as a second career.
  • Vacancies occur throughout the UK, particularly in the main urban areas. Specialties, such as child and adolescent mental health services and inpatient services, sometimes experience skills shortages.
  • A positive work/life balance may be difficult to maintain due to the level of personal commitment and working patterns required. In spite of widespread 'zero tolerance' policies, there is a risk of exposure to violence by patients in some environments. Paperwork is also on the increase, partly in response to the threat of litigation.
  • The need for overnight absence from home is dependent on the nature of the post and shift patterns.
  • Travel during the working day is common for community psychiatric nurses (CPNs).

Salary data from Health Careers. Figures are intended as a guide only.

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Written by AGCAS editors
February 2014

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