Nurses and doctors may quit the NHS in their thousands, so they do not miss out on pension benefits in March when special covid measures expire.
In March 2020, as part of the Government’s Covid-19 action plan, recently retired NHS staff were allowed to return to work to help with the increase in patients through the pandemic – without any penalties on their pensions.
These were temporary measures, however, and will come to an end on 24 March, 2022.
When they are re-employed by the NHS, workers’ pensions are reduced if their earnings plus the “unearned” element of their NHS pension, is more than their pension earning before retiring. This is called abatement.
Some members of the NHS pension scheme can retire at 55, with no reductions to their pension. For example, nurses with “special class” status and psychiatrists with “mental health officer” (MHO) status.
Analysis from the investment firm, Quilter, shows 7,000 doctors and nurses could be affected by the end of the suspended pensions and might retire.
This is backed up by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), which said 7,470 said they would be adversely impacted by the return of abatement.
NHS pension specialist at Quilter, Graham Crossley said: “There is an easy fix to this looming problem. The Coronavirus Act 2020 includes provisions to allow the extension to any of the powers contained within the bill and this issue should be raised urgently in Government.”
The issue was brought up in parliament on January 10th, but Mr Crossley warns that as many affected workers have already received their letters, they will need to decide now whether they will keep working after March 25th.
He said: “This should be the least that is done to help hard-working doctors and nurses continue to battle Covid during one of the worst health crises in a generation.”