You may have been looking into the salary of UK doctors and feel that it is much lower compared to other English-speaking countries. This is a fair observation.
Whenever I have doubts about this, I compare it to what my salary and employee benefits would have been back home (in the Philippines) at this stage of my career, and it helps me to appreciate the journey I’ve taken to move to the UK.
Because it’s not all about take home pay. It’s important to consider some of the benefits of being an NHS employee that many other countries don’t have.
1. Annual leave
In the UK, you are entitled to paid annual leave every year + 8 days of paid bank holidays. As an NHS doctor, the longer you work in the NHS, the more annual leave you get.
The table below summarises what you’re entitled to:
|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|
If you work on a bank holiday, then you should get another day off in return. This is called a time off in-lieu or TOIL.
2. Study leave
Trainees from FY2 and above, and sometimes even non-trainees (with negotiation), will be entitled to paid study leave.
For trainees this is usually 30 days a year. The majority of this time is allocated to compulsory teaching sessions provided by the training programme. Some of the time is given to trainees to decide what to do with. Typically these are used to attend courses, conferences, and study for exams.
3. Study budget
Trainees, and often non-trainees (with negotiation), will have access to to some amount of money to attend courses and conferences. It usually covers for course fees and in some cases travel and accommodation. It won’t usually cover all the expenses but it certainly helps. See here for more details.
4. Study sessions
Study sessions are separate from study leave and form part of your regular weekly or monthly timetable. The allocation of study sessions varies per specialty and per region.
Trainees, and sometimes even non-trainees (with negotiation), can have a 1-2 half days a week or month for study or administrative tasks. These can be used to work on audits, presentations, publications, research etc. It can also be used to catch up on paperwork, although ideally, it should be more academic-focused.
5. Sick leave
You are entitled to paid sick leave separate from your annual leave. Your sick days will not be deducted from your annual leave days. If you get sick during annual leave you may be able to claim it back so you can use the annual leave for another time.
Please note that if you are off sick for too many days in a year, you may need to extend your training or repeat a year.
6. Maternity and Paternity leave
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. Please see this article for more details.
Paternity leave – fathers are entitled to 2 weeks paternity leave. This is actually called “Maternity support” leave and applies to same-sex partners as well as nominated carers for single mothers. It can be paid leave if the father/same-sex partner/nominated carer has been an NHS employee for a year before the baby was born.
Shared parental leave – In some cases, the one year maternity leave can be shared between the parents.
7. Part-time training
You can request to complete your training part-time. This can be for a variety of reasons including to balance work and other commitments like caring for children or an elderly family member, to do a part-time degree, or just for work-life balance.
This is known as “less than full-time training” or LTFT training. The least you can work is 50%, this will mean you will take twice as long to complete your training. For example, GP training is 3 years long if you work full time or at 100%. If will be 6 years long if you work LTFT at 50%.
Your annual salary with LTFT training will be considerably less than a full-time job and this may have implications for those on a Tier 2 visa where you generally need to earn more than £30,000 per year.
8. Parental leave
You are also entitled to 18 weeks parental leave for each child spread over 18 years until your child turns 18. Some weeks may be paid but most of this leave is unpaid. It can be used for various things such as helping your child settle in school, staying with them in hospital, or just to spend more time with your children.
9. NHS pension
Many financial advisors will tell you that the NHS pension is a good deal and you won’t find a better private pension plan out there to replace it – at least that’s what several have advised me! You can read more about the NHS pension on this BMA page and decide for yourself whether you want to opt out of it.
Suggested: How to transfer money back home from the UK
UK salary for doctors may be lower compared to other countries, but there are numerous benefits to being an NHS employee including generous leave allowance.
In the UK, you also do not need to worry about having health insurance or paying for education, as you can use the NHS without having to worry about medical bills, and there is a good public education system here.
What do you think of these benefits? Do they make you want to work in the UK?
If these benefits interest you, go on and read how much your initial investment would be to work as a doctor in UK.