The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is seeking to further extend the provision of special retirement arrangements for retired NHS staff who have returned to work amid the coronavirus pandemic in England and Wales.
He said the move would help “strengthen” the workforce ahead of another tough winter.
However, some in the profession have warned that the move has come ‘too late’ and retired nurses have already left due to pension concerns.
Legislation introduced in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak has made it easier for recently retired NHS staff across the UK to return to work and respond to the pandemic without suffering a penalty on their pensions or seeing their limited hours.
These temporary measures are due to expire across the UK on October 31, 2022, having previously been extended.
But the DHSC has now launched a new consultation on extending the provisions in England and Wales until March 31, 2023. Nursing schedules is awaiting a response from the governments of Northern Ireland and Scotland on its plans for these pension measures in these devolved countries.
Unveiling its consultation, which is open to the public and closes on September 12, the DHSC said the program expansion would enable those who had stepped up to support the healthcare system since 2020 to continue working for the NHS “throughout the potentially difficult period”. upcoming winter period.
This would help “strengthen the workforce” and ease pressures on health services and tackle backlogs aggravated by the pandemic, he added.
As a general rule, NHS staff will have their pension payments limited if they return to work in the NHS after retirement and earn a certain amount – this is known as the abatement.
They are also generally required to work less than 16 hours per week during the first four weeks after retirement, otherwise their retirement benefits would be cut off.
Both of these aspects of the NHS pension scheme have been suspended from March 2020 to encourage retired staff to support the pandemic response.
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “The country is extremely grateful to all the retired staff who have returned to support the NHS and the public during the pandemic.
“This winter will also be difficult, and we are making the necessary preparations to support the NHS”
“This winter will also be challenging, and we are making the necessary preparations to support the NHS as it continues to provide top-notch patient care.
“As part of this, we are currently consulting on the extension of the temporary changes to the NHS pension scheme, which have so far allowed highly qualified pensioners to return to the labor market without their pension benefits being affected. “
Paul Trevatt, a retired nurse who returned to the NHS to support the Covid-19 vaccination programme, said Nursing schedules he was “in favor” of government consultation.
However, he stressed that it was “important to note” that for many retired nurses this was the third time these special retirement measures had been extended and warned that for some the consultation was not came quite early.
“Nurses are angry that this doesn’t fix the problem, but rather paints the cracks,” Mr Trevatt said.
If the move is approved, “at the end of March 2023, we will have to have this conversation again,” he added. “There’s a weary feeling about Groundhog Day,” he said.
Mr Trevatt has suggested that the pension cut be scrapped “in its entirety” or that it be suspended “at least for a few years until the nursing workforce crisis is resolved”.
The timing of the consultation was also an issue, noted Mr Trevatt who said it had come “too late” for “most” retired nurses because rotations for the fall had already been finalized.
“A lot of retired nurses on Twitter have already told me they quit”
“Many retired nurses have already told me on Twitter that they quit because they were unable to commit to work schedules without knowing if their pension payments would be suspended,” a- he declared.
Additional support from retired nurses “has been recognised” in recent years, but “now the opposite is happening and retired nurses are leaving,” Trevatt added.
“The fact that this could have been avoided is frankly a tragedy,” he said.
Meanwhile, the director of the Royal College of Nursing for England, Patricia Marquis, said: “We have always been clear that nurses who have come out of retirement during the pandemic should not be penalized as a result. seeing his pensions affected.
“These nursing staff, however, need more than short-term solutions to deal with a long-term crisis that has left tens of thousands of nursing positions unfilled.”
Highlighting the importance of compensation and the impact of the cost of living crisis on staff, she added: “As waiting lists soar and hospital beds run out, the simply bringing retired staff back will not be enough.
“Compensating staff fairly is what is needed, and inaction will continue to endanger patient care.”
Separately, new national guidelines were launched in Scotland today to help streamline the country’s processes to allow retiring NHS staff to work part-time while drawing their pensions.
Health and Social Care Secretary Humza Yousaf said the ‘Retire and Rehire’ scheme would help health boards ‘continue to strengthen the workforce, while enabling staff members to continue to working longer in the NHS, varying the nature or pattern of work, to best suit their needs”.
“As the NHS continues to recover and remobilize from the pandemic, it is more important than ever that we retain experienced staff with the skills we need to deliver high quality care,” he said. added.