Plan to retain older docs ‘fails to fulfil objective’

Retirement flexibilities ask doctors to reduce pensionable pay

By Edie Bourne

Doctors should not have to reduce their pensionable pay to access the retirement flexibilities proposed in the Government’s recent NHS pension consultation, according to specialist financial planners.

The consultation, launched in December and closed at the end of January, sought views on plans to enable staff to work more flexibly up to and beyond retirement in a bid to retain vital skills of senior doctors in the workforce.

These proposals include:

 A new partial retirement option to give access to the NHS pension while still working and building pension benefits;

 Removing a limit to the hours newly-retired staff can work in the first month back; 

 Fixing the interaction between inflation and pension tax.

It is already possible to continue working while claiming pension benefits earned in the 2008 and 2015 section of the NHS Pension Scheme, but from 1 October 2023, it will be available for benefits in the 1995 scheme too. But this option requires participants to reduce their pensionable pay by 10%.

Dr Benjamin Holdsworth

Dr Benjamin Holdsworth, a director of specialist financial planners Cavendish Medical, explained: ‘In the main, these reforms will be largely beneficial and a positive step to helping seniors doctors work more flexibly in order to retain their skills in the service.

‘However, our area of concern is around the requirement for a reduction in pensionable pay in order to access the option. 

‘Many clinicians will wish or will need to continue with their existing workload. For example, a significant number of consultants work in excess of ten programmed activities (PAs). 

‘Our understanding of the proposed rules is that, for example, a consultant working 12 PAs would need to reduce their workload by 25% in order to qualify for this option.


‘For some, it is simply not possible to continue their role and associated responsibilities within this reduced time – or they ultimately end up being paid less for doing the same work.’ 

He warned that this would also be problematic for clinical academics whose pay is linked to grants paid over very long periods.

Dr Holdsworth said: ‘This obligation to reduce hours seems to be unnecessary and not in line with the original objective of the proposed changes, which was to retain staff.’

The Government had yet to publish the outcome of the consultation as Independent Practitioner Today went to press. 

Changes are due to come into force in April and October this year.