How much does an NHS Consultant get paid? Understanding the Consultant pay scale

How much does an NHS Consultant get paid? Understanding the Consultant pay scale

Jan 18, 2021.

The ultimate goal of a junior doctor is to, of course, become a Consultant. This is a journey with the average training route covering a duration of 7 years.

So, when the time comes there is one big question – how much do NHS Consultants get paid?

We’re here to answer that question and advise on a few other things you may need to know when it comes to being remunerated for being an NHS Consultant.

What pay scale are NHS Consultants on?

The list below shows exactly what pay scale NHS Consultants are on… Annex A: Section 2: Consultant (2003 contract)

ThresholdYears Completed as a ConsultantBasic Salary
 5£89, 856
 6£89, 856
 7£89, 856
 8£89, 856
69£95, 795
 10£95, 795
 11£95, 795
 12£95, 795
 13£95, 795
714£101, 735
 15£101, 735
 16£101, 735
 17£101, 735
 18£101, 735
819£107, 668

How is the pay scale structured?

The pay scale is structured against a basic salary threshold that runs from 1 through to 8. The threshold is then calculated against the years of experience the doctor has as a Consultant.

For example, if a Consultant has just recently obtained their CCT or CESR and has been placed on the Specialist Register – they are now eligible to work as a permanent NHS Consultant. However, if an international Consultant wants to join the NHS at a Consultant level, this is still possible without CCT or CESR, they will just need to take up a Locum Consultant post as opposed to a permanent post. In terms of pay, they will start on threshold 1 which means that their basic salary will be £79,860.

However, if a doctor has 6 years’ experience working as a Consultant their basic salary will be £89,856 and their salary won’t increase until they have 9 years of experience.

It’s important to note that a Consultant’s weekly job plan is made up of ‘programmed activities’ which are essentially a block of four hours of work in which contractual duties are performed. This includes direct clinical care, teaching, training audits, clinical governance, and more. Therefore, a typical Consultant’s job plan will include 10 PA’s which is equivalent to 40 hours per week.

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As an NHS Consultant, exactly how much should I expect to be paid?

When you’re working out your pay, you need to consider the following questions:

  • Are you a Consultant on the Specialist Register? If not, will you be taking up a Locum Consultant post?
  • How many years of experience do you have working solely as a Consultant?

Do you plan on working full-time?

If you’re unsure on whether you want to work full time, contact ID Medical at and we’ll be happy to give you the right information to ensure you receive the salary deserving of your knowledge, skills, and level of experience.

How is an NHS Consultant’s job plan made up?

An NHS Consultant’s job plan is essentially their annual agreement outlining their duties, responsibilities, and objectives for the upcoming year. Upon appointment, an NHS Consultant will agree with their employer about how their time will be spent to deliver individual and service objectives.

A job plan will include:

  • A full timetable of activities
  • A summary of the Programmed Activities (PA’s)
  • On-call arrangements
  • A list of SMART objectives
  • A list of supporting resources necessary to achieve objectives
  • A list of external duties

What’s a Programmed Activity (PA)?

A PA is a block of time, typically equivalent to four-hours in which a Consultant’s contractual duties are performed. There are four basic categories of contractual work:

  • Direct Clinical Care (DCC)
  • Supporting Professional Activities (SPAs) (teaching, training, clinical governance, etc)
  • Additional Responsibilities
  • External Duties

Can I still work additional locum shifts when on a permanent contract?


With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the NHS set to undergo extreme pressure on the service as a whole, NHS trusts are going to need as much extra help as they can get.

Do I get additional pay for taking up extra activities, such as teaching?

Yes. As your job plan is made up of Programmed Activities, if you take up an additional four hours a week (the equivalent of one PA), you will be paid additional supplements will which increase your annual salary.

Working as a Consultant within the NHS is a tremendous achievement and their extensive knowledge and their adept level of skills and experience is reflected in their remuneration…

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