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Pensions flexibility announced for senior clinicians

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced a new public consultation proposing full flexibility over the amount senior clinicians put into their pension pots. This will replace the 50:50 proposal put forward for consultation in July.


The government wants to change pension rules for top doctors, surgeons and other high-earning clinicians to allow them to take on extra shifts and treat more patients without losing out financially.


Starting from next financial year, the new rules would allow senior clinicians to set the exact level of pension accrual at the start of each year. For example, 30% contributions for a 30% accrual rate, or any other percentage in 10% increments depending on their financial situation. 


This would give clinicians room to take on additional work without breaching their annual allowance and facing tax charges. Employers would then have the option to recycle their unused contribution back into the clinician’s salary.


The NHS Pension Scheme is recognised as one of the most generous in both the private and public sector. But the tapered annual allowance means some clinicians can face tax charges. Around a third of NHS consultants and GP practice partners have earnings from the NHS that could potentially lead to them being affected by the tapered annual allowance.


Alongside the proposals for full flexibility, HM Treasury will review how the tapered annual allowance supports the delivery of public services such as the NHS. HM Treasury will continue to engage with the NHS, the British Medical Association (BMA) and other stakeholders as part of this process.


Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sajid Javid, says that introducing flexibility to the NHS is critical to ensure hospitals have the staff they need to deliver high quality patient care.


Flexibility has been rated as a top workforce priority for staff recruitment and retention across many sectors and professions, including plant and machine operatives, cleaning, catering and administration. As the NHS attempts to address its workforce challenges, which in estates and facilities includes 4,400 vacancies, introducing greater flexibility for staff in all disciplines should be high on the agenda.