The NHS is the UK’s largest employers, and there are around 659,000 nurses working in hospitals and health centres up and down the country. Many nurses are involved in “bank nursing”, and this can be an attractive revenue stream for not only nurses but also other health professionals such as care assistants or pharmacists. Bank nursing isn’t the same as being employed full time though, and there are several important differences to be aware of before signing up to a bank.


Who Runs the Banks?

Most often, the nursing banks are run by NHS health boards. Think of them as a register of staff who are prepared to come in at short notice to cover staff sickness, or to pick up extra shifts at busy times. The main benefits of the NHS running its own nurse banks are that the members of staff are known to them, the nurses are familiar with the hospitals where they are working, and the DBS checking which they have for their main nursing job applies to the bank job too as it all falls under the same umbrella of the NHS Trust. The relationship between the NHS bank and the bank nurse is slightly different though. Bank nurses have total control over what shifts they agree to do, and in what hospitals. Bank nurses are well within their rights to refuse to cover shifts if they don’t want to go in, or to stipulate that they’ll only work in certain locations or in certain functions in a hospital.


Private Banks

Nurses may also choose to work for private nursing agencies. These agencies may also place staff into NHS hospitals if the NHS can’t cover positions from their own pool of bank staff, but more often cover shifts at private hospitals or care homes. Again, nurses have control over where they want to work and what type of work they want to do. The only difference is with the administrative side of working with a private bank. Nurses who are topping up work in the NHS with private bank work will have to undergo a separate DBS checking process before being allocated their first shift. One way around this is to register with the DBS update system, which allows nurses to give employers access to their online records instantly. Also, there are usually tax implications to taking on a second job. Nursing banks are accustomed to dealing with nurses working part time for the bank and full time for the NHS, but check you’re being taxed at the right rate to avoid any nasty surprises at the end of the tax year.


Bank Nursing – The Pay

Most NHS trusts will publish the rates of pay for bank nurses on their website. The pay will be much higher for a band 8 nurse than for someone lower down the scale, and there’s usually a premium for working nights, weekends and bank holidays. Private nursing agencies typically have similar arrangements, but pay rates will differ from the NHS.