Qualified nurses' estimated basic pay increased to £27,000, according to the NHS Information Centre, which published its latest estimates of NHS staff earnings on 26 July.

The estimates indicate that qualified nurses' pay increased 4.2 per cent from£26,100 between January to March 2007 and the same period in 2008.

And hospital consultants working under the new contract earned an estimated total of£115,400, a 3.2 per cent increase on the previous year, when their total earnings from NHS work was estimated as£111,800. The figures do not take into account any private work consultants may have undertaken and only include consultants directly employed and paid by NHS organisations.

Based on staff earnings between January and March 2008, the estimates are compared with those from the same period in 2007.

Accurate information

This is the first time information from the electronic staff record - the new integrated payroll and human resources system - has been used to chart an annual change in earnings. The system's roll-out was completed in April 2008 and it is enabling the NHS to get more accurate and up-to-date information about staff earnings than ever before.

Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan said: "The NHS Information Centre is making the most of the high-quality information ESR has to offer in order to produce more robust and timely estimates of staff earnings than ever before.

"Staff earnings represent a huge proportion of the NHS budget and independent, reliable and up-to-date information about staff pay is a huge support for frontline organisations in their pay negotiations and financial planning."

The full report is available from www.ic.nhs.uk