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Nursing in the UK vs. Nursing in Australia

We take a look at the major differences between nursing in these two counties.



uk v australia

Take a look at how being a nurse in the United Kingdom differs from being a nurse in Australia.

The United Kingdom and Australia are literally half-a-world apart but how does nursing in Birmingham compare to Brisbane or nursing in Sydney to Sheffield?

Average Salary

UK: NHS Nurses in the United Kingdom are subject to the Agenda for Change pay structure which gives nurses an average annual salary of £25,653 ($42,535). Nurses working in London receive up to an extra 20% due to increased living costs.


Australia:  Nurses in Australia have an average annual salary of $65,000 (£39,201) – however, this can be can vary significantly by location and sector.

Patient Ratios

UK: In general, the UK has a nurse to patient ratio of 1:8, however, will usually depend on patient acuity, place of work, location, number of beds. High dependency ratios are usually 1:2 and intensive care 1:1.

Australia:  Nurse to patient ratio, on average, is 1 nurse to 4 patients, except during night duty and intensive care patients are usually 1:1.

Regulatory Bodies

UK: In the United Kingdom, nurses are regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and pay an annual fee to practice of £120 ($215). Nurses wishing to transfer their international registration to the UK would be subject to an application fee of £1415 ($2515).

Australia: In Australia, nurses are regulated by The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) and pay an annual fee to practice of $150 (£85). Nurses wishing to transfer their international registration to Australia would be subject to an application fee of around $515 (£290).

Work-life Balance

UK: ‘Full time’ nurses work 37.5 hours per week which as usually spread between days, nights and weekends – which unsocial hours being at a slightly higher rate. The majority of healthcare organisations in the UK use a 12.5-hour shift regime, however, shorter 7-hour shifts can be negotiated. Overtime is usually paid at the standard rate with minimal enhancements.

Australia: ‘Full time’ nurses will be expected to work around 40 a week. The majority of healthcare organisations in Australia use a short shift regime. This is usually made up of days, nights and weekend shifts. Overtime shifts rates are usually between time-and-a-half to triple time.

Gender Ratios

The United Kingdom and Australia have very similar numbers of male to female nurse ratios with around 12% of all nurses identifying as male.

Healthcare Rankings

The World Health Organisation (WHO) rates the United Kingdom as the 18th best healthcare system in the world while Australia ranks slightly higher at the 9th –  comparatively, the United States ranks as 37th.


UK: Nursing in the UK has been a graduate profession, requiring a bachelors degree, since 2013 and are required to complete 35 hours of CPD, however, this can be spaced across the three year period since their last revalidation.

Australia: Nursing in Australia has been a graduate profession, requiring a bachelors degree, since the 1990s and are required to complete a minimum of 20 hours of CPD as part of their yearly registration renewal.


The United Kingdom and Australia have very similar job opportunities for nurses, these can include; primary and secondary care, care homes, hospice care and community nursing. The United Kingdom is currently experiencing a significant nursing shortage so work will be freely available, while Australia is having similar issues there may be slightly more competition for jobs.

Useful Links for Australia

Useful Links for the UK


Former student nurses share their top money-saving tips

“A nursing degree is very different to most undergraduate courses.”



Student money saving tips

Direct from former student nurses, the Student Money Guide is packed with useful tips.

New nursing students should claim fuel reimbursements, car share, compare markets and supermarkets and seek second-hand textbooks to make their student funding, and part-time wages go as far as possible, updated advice from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says.

The College’s latest Student Money Guide for nursing is packed with useful information on childcare, travel expenses, charitable funding and tips for those moving into private rented accommodation.


The top money-saving tips.

Direct from former student nurses, the guide offers some top money-saving tips, which include;

  1. Develop a good relationship with your bank – meet and go through all the options and accounts which will save you most money and give you the best interest rates
  2. Use online materials, the RCN Library for example, instead of buying textbooks – If you do buy them, try advertising on university notice boards for second-hand copies, or, have a look at Use cashback websites, such as Quidco, when making purchases.
  3. Get a Young Persons Rail Card if you spend over £72 a year on rail travel – all full-time students are eligible, regardless of age.
  4. Claim fuel reimbursement if you drive further to placement than to university – it is offered, so you might as well.
  5. Be penny-wise, seek out free pickings – go to sites like Freecycle for free furniture, kitchenware and bicycles.
  6. Check out your local discount warehouses for basics, cleaning products, toilet rolls, washing powder and buy these as a household to split the cost of a bulk buy – it is well worth it.
  7. Share lifts to placement and do food shops with fellow students.
  8. Make sure your supermarket shop is cheapest – check online comparison sites like ahead of your shop.
  9. Use your local butchers and market.
  10. Take a packed lunch and flask to university – you will save a small fortune and probably eat better.

Nursing is different to other degree courses.

Claire Cannings, Senior Welfare Adviser commented: “A nursing degree is very different to most undergraduate courses. The placement element means there is less time for part-time work, and the long shifts mean childcare and travel is often more expensive.

“Fluency with finances, brilliance with budgeting and keeping clued-up on things complimentary can pay dividends. This can, in turn, impact positively on study and well-being through a student’s learning years and beyond. It’s amazing how many grants and funds students are entirely unaware of which is why we’ve collated all the information they need in one place.

“While the RCN will still be making the case to Government to invest in nursing education, we hope the guide will continue to be a valuable resource to our current and potential members.”

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Clinical Updates

Induction framework for General Practice Nurses launched

It also provides guidance for practices employing General Practice Nurses.



nurse working at desk in office

The document provides a framework for both new and experienced general practice nurses.

NHS England, in collaboration with The QNI, has launched a new Induction Template for General Practice Nursing.

The Induction Template is has been designed to enable employers to ensure that nurses in a first career destination role in General Practice are well supported when taking their first career step in primary care.


Not just useful for newly qualified nurses, the 51-page document provides an induction framework for all new general practice nurses, enabling them to develop key skills required for the role.

It also provides guidance for practices employing General Practice Nurses.

Nursing associates, health care assistants and student nurses preparing for a primary care placement may also find the template useful.

A great start to a long and exciting career’.

The author of the document, Queen’s Nurse and experienced nursing mentor and educator, Sharon Aldridge-Bent said; “Developing this template highlighted the urgent need for a comprehensive induction and orientation programme for all nurses new to general practice.

“This most certainly will assist with recruitment and retention of nurses in the primary care setting.”

Paul Vaughan, Head of Nursing Now England, responsible for the delivery of the GPN Ten Point Plan, said: “this new resource will enable employers to ensure they provide nurses new to general practice with a really good experience of working in the sector and ensure they have a great start to their long and exciting career working general practice.”

The resource underpinned by General Practice – developing confidence, capability and capacity – A ten-point action plan for General Practice Nursing (2017) contributes towards the overall strategic goals outlined in the General Practice Five Year Forward View.

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