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Delay to partial retirement rules in the NHS a massive own goal for government
Graham Crossley

NHS pensions expert at Quilter Financial Advisers

A policy set out by the government last year, designed to help stem the flow of senior healthcare professionals leaving the profession, has been delayed by six months.

Plans for so called "partial retirement" which gave members of the NHS pension scheme the ability to continue employment while drawing benefits from the 1995 pension scheme and continuing pensioned employment in the 2015 scheme were announced last April.

However, despite the NHS creaking under significant pressure, government has scored a massive own goal by deferring this policy to October later this year. The consultation on this policy is yet to even close but delays are already announced.

While six months might seem like an inconsequential amount of time to some, many members were looking forward to this policy so that they could transition their retirement gradually, easing their workload but continuing to work without having to renegotiate potentially less favourable terms of employment.

Unfortunately, the delays to this policy might represent a bridge too far with some members looking to throw in the towel and take full retirement. Due to the huge inflation this country has witnessed over this last year, paltry wage increases and punitive pension tax laws many members have to weigh up a tricky decision about whether it makes financial sense to keep working.

Last year, it has emerged following an FOI submitted by us, that April 2022 saw a record number of pension benefits being awarded to NHS staff, indicating a significant jump in those retiring. The delays to this policy may cause a repeat of this.

April 2022 saw 8,902 pension awards compared to just 6,932 in April 2021, a year-on-year increase of 28% piling yet more pressure on the NHS as it emerged from the pandemic.

There are some welcome measures that are intended to be introduced from April 2023. All members will have the option to retire and re-join the pension.

If you are not ready to stop work altogether, you can retire and take your full pension, then return to work after a break of at least 24 hours and re-join the 2015 NHS Pension Scheme to earn further benefits.

This is already available to members of the 2008 Section or 2015 Scheme. Once the changes take effect on 1st April 2023, it’ll also be an option for members who have retired with 1995 Section benefits.

Under the proposed changes, if you decide to re-join the NHS, you’ll be able to work as many hours as you choose straightaway.

Currently, the 1995 Section rules limit members to working 16 hours a week in the first month after retirement to avoid their pension payments being affected. The 16-hour rule has been suspended since 25th March 2020 and this suspension is due to continue to 31st March 2023.

The DHSC is proposing permanently removing this rule from 1st April 2023. This would mean that, if you’ve had a break of 24 hours from your previous job, you’ll be able to move to a new employment contract and start building 2015 benefits immediately.

More information can be found here

Speaking to an NHS pensions expert could help give you the best chance of staying on track with your financial goals. Click here to get in touch with Quilter Financial Advisers and book your free initial financial consultation to see how you could benefit from financial advice.


Approver Quilter Financial Services Limited & Quilter Mortgage Planning Limited. 7 February 2023.