RCN chief’s salary rises to £197,000 per year

It has increased by £33,000 in just the last five years – in the same period experienced nurses saw a rise of just £2,507.

Matt Bodell
28 April 2021
RCN Sign

The RCN chief is in the unique position of having both the role of Chief Executive and General Secretary.

The salary of the boss at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has risen to £197,000 per year, according to recently published data.


Annual reports published by the RCN reveal that between 2015 and 2020 the total salary for the union’s Chief Executive and General Secretary increased by a whopping £33,000 – from £164,000 to £197,000.

While the RCN’s chief is in the unique position of having the dual role of Chief Executive and General Secretary, in comparison during the 2019 to 2020 financial year, the pay and benefits of UNISON’s General Secretary was £126,480 and NHS England’s Chief Nurse was around £180,000 per year.

All figures include annual salary, any additional payment for working in central London (if applicable) and employer pension contributions.

Inflated salaries.

In stark contrast, the pay of an experienced staff nurse has risen by just £2,507 in the same five year period.


The news comes amid fresh calls from members to directly link the pay of RCN staff to Agenda for Change.

Zeba Arif, an RCN Activist and President of the All Pakistan Nurses Association APNA-UK, said;  “As a retired member of a challenging nursing speciality, I reflect how arduous, complicated and demanding it was (and now even more so) to earn enough as healthcare staff to live a life of dignity.

“I am sure I am not the only one who cannot fathom how excessive salaries paid to heads of trade unions, without members’ input or agreement, can be linked to an ethos of public service and justified to those who struggle to get by each day.”

Dan Langley, a fellow RCN activist, added; “This is no time for business as usual. Nurses have suffered attacks on wages and working conditions long before the pandemic.


“We do not need careerists on inflated salaries, we need determined leaders who will actually fight for the workers and make no mistake, nobody on a salary this ludicrous would challenge the status quo.”


The RCN claims the complex role justifies the large salary.

A spokesperson for the RCN said; “The General Secretary and Chief Executive is responsible for the leadership of the largest nursing union in the world with a £96 million turnover that employs nearly a thousand staff.

“The role involves leading not just on pay, welfare and conditions for nearly half a million nursing staff across the UK, but also in setting professional standards recognised around the world.

“The salary is agreed by a member-led remuneration committee and is below that of a Director of Nursing in some of the UK’s largest trusts and well below the average for NHS Chief Executives.”


The data included in this article was taken directly from each organisations public annual reports or the Government Trade Union Certification Officer’s annual reports.

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