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Understanding your first pay slip

By Dr Kyle Gibson

Understanding your first pay slip

This guide has been written by Dr Kyle Gibson, a qualified doctor and member of Wesleyan's Junior Advisory Board.

This generic guide serves to help to navigate and better understand your first NHS pay slip as a doctor in training. It is correct at the time of writing; however details may change with developments in future contracts. The format of payslips varies depending on whether you work in England/Wales, Ireland or Scotland.


  •  Salary scale. You can check this is correct by downloading the most recent pay circular in your devolved nation from the internet
  • Incremental point. This depends on your previous NHS experience and relates to the above salary scale. When entering a new period of training (Foundation year 1, Foundation year 2, Specialist registrar) you will usually enter the 'minimum' pay scale. As a specialist registrar, with each year of work in that role you will go up a pay scale ('minimum' pay scale in your first year; 'pay scale 1' in your second year; etc)
  • Banding. The percentage of supplement for working unsociable hours will be highlighted on your payslip; for example 50% of your baseline salary - this can be checked against your contract of employment.
  • Expenses. You may be entitled to claim expenses depending on your circumstances, for example expenses incurred when travelling to home visits for GP trainees. Consult relevant documents to check your entitlement - these are widely available through most search engines


  • Income tax (tax code). HMRC advises your employer of the correct tax code. It is important to submit relevant tax paperwork to your employer as soon as possible, for example your P45/P46. This will decrease the chance of being 'emergency taxed'; this can be common with your first pay but employers will usually be able to adjust your pay accordingly the following month
  • National Insurance. Your contribution depends on your circumstances
  • Pension. A deduction will be made each month if you decide to join the NHS Pension Scheme; the percentage will vary depending on your circumstances and changes over time. Your contribution is based on your basic salary (banding not included)

Useful Tips

  • When rotating to new trusts/health boards, consider sending a copy of your most recent payslip or Staff Transfer Certificate to ensure your pay scale is continued
  • Check that your incremental date is correct; this will usually be August of each year for most doctors in training, but will vary depending on individual circumstances (such as those not starting in August)

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