NHS pensions for GPs and other NHS staff are different and complex. We would recommend you consult the NHS Pensions Agency website for up to date and informative advice on your pension. There is also guidance explaining the different schemes that you may have membership to.
You may also be interested in our webpage for 24 hour retirement for GPs.
There are three key changes in the emergency coronavirus legislation relating to NHS pensions.
- The 16-hour rule was relaxed for doctors taking 24-hour retirement.
- The rules on pension abatement were lifted.
- The requirement for some pension scheme members to reduce pensionable pay by 10 per cent if they continue working was suspended.
The 16-hour rule restricted those in the 1995 section of the NHS Pension Scheme to working a maximum of 16 hours per week during the month following 24 hour retirement. There is now no restriction.
Following the end of the COVID-19 outbreak, a six-month notice period will be given to staff and employers at the end of which the suspended regulations will take effect again. Staff and employers will therefore have six months’ notice to readjust their working patterns, where necessary.
Pension abatement affects members of the NHS pension scheme with ‘special class status’, for example GPs with Mental Health Officer status. Special class status allows these members to retire at age 55 years without a reduction in their pension benefits. However, between the ages of 55 and 60, they must not earn more, including their pension benefits, than they did immediately before they retired. This earnings restriction has now been lifted.
Members of the 2008/2015 pension scheme who had elected to draw down a proportion of their benefits and continue working previously had to reduce their pensionable pay by 10 per cent. This requirement has now been suspended.
NHSBSA have produced a helpful FAQ sheet to cover each of the three changes.
Partners owning premises and Retirement
A number of GPs own their premises, and it is often wise, therefore, to include in the partnership agreement that; 'when a partner retires or leaves a partnership they are obliged to sell their share to the partnership/incoming partners.'
The GPC guidance The future of GP practice premises states that 'if a partner wishes to retire but wants to remain the owner of the property, they would have to stay on as a ‘sleeping partner’.
According to the Premises Directions, to be able to continue receiving notional rent, you have to be a contractor. Otherwise the only option is to stop receiving rent reimbursement from the PCO, become a landlord and rent out the property to the remaining partners who would have to apply for lease reimbursements'. (p21 in linked document)
For most individual pension queries, though we may be able to help with advice in some instances, we would generally suggest you seek expert, independent financial advice from an adviser familiar with GP finance. However here are some links to information that might help you with some of the more frequently asked questions.
- BMA guidance on restricting pensions tax relief
- Seniority Payments - these are payments linked to length of experience
- Completing Pension Forms
Resource Details for Pensions
- Year-End Pension Guidance including links to the relevant forms - https://pcse.england.nhs.uk/services/gp-pensions/support/
- Queries relating to pensions you need to use the PCSE Online Enquiries Form
- GP Payments and Pensions website link – https://pcse.england.nhs.uk/services/gp-payments-and-pensions/
- If submitting pension forms by post, the PCSE address to send these to will be dependent on your home address therefore you will need to contact PCSE to confirm it. This can either be done via the online enquiry form or by contacting the Customer Support Centre on 0333 014 2884
Working After Retirement
The effect of returning to NHS work (including a Direction Body) after retirement depends on which Section of the NHS Scheme you are a member of and what your last day of pensionable employment was.
If you return to NHS employment or re-employment that is in respect of the provision of NHS services or in respect of the delivery of NHS funded services before your normal pension age your pension may be subject to a reduction. This is known as “abatement”. Whether your pension is reduced or not will depend on the level of your earnings whilst re-employed. This will also depend upon when you left the Scheme, when you claimed your pension benefits and the type of pension benefits claimed. Abatement rules cease once you have reached your normal pension age of the Section or Scheme from which you have claimed your pension benefits.