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Department of Health and Social Care launches consultation on introduction of retirement flexibilities

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced a consultation on proposals to amend the NHS Pension Scheme rules to help retain more experienced NHS clinicians and remove barriers to staff returning to work following retirement.

What is included in the consultation

Building on the actions it set out in its Our Plan for Patients in September, the government launched a consultation on 5 December 2022.

The consultation proposes changes to the NHS Pension Scheme to support NHS staff to remain in work for longer. The proposed changes would introduce a number of flexibilities that may enable staff to work more flexibly up to and beyond retirement age.

The proposed changes would also fix the unintended impacts of inflation to reduce the risk that some NHS staff, including senior clinicians, may face annual allowance charges as a result of the recent high inflation.

The proposed changes include:  

  • A new partial retirement option to support staff to work more flexibly up to and beyond retirement age. This may enable older staff to partially retire, or for those that have already retired to return to work, and either claim all or part of their pension whilst continuing to work and build more pension benefits.
  • Allowing retired staff to re-join the NHS Pension Scheme if they return to work, making returning to work in the NHS more attractive.
  • Removing limits on the number of hours recently retired staff can work in the first calendar month after returning to work.
  • Fixing the interaction between the pension tax system and inflation to ensure senior clinicians have more headroom against the £40,000 pension tax annual allowance. If introduced, this would mean senior doctors would either be less likely to receive a tax charge or may receive a smaller tax charge.
  • Allowing staff working in Primary Care Networks (PCNs), such as GPs and general practice staff, to access the NHS Pension Scheme. Previously they have had to apply for time-limited access on an ad-hoc basis.

When will the changes be made

The consultation is open for 8 weeks and closes on 30 January 2023.

After the consultation is closed, the Department of Health and Social Care will publish the outcome of the consultation.

The Department of Health and Social Care expects that any changes may be implemented in late spring 2023.

How to respond

You can view the consultation documents and respond online.

The consultation will close at 11.45pm on 30 January 2022.