The government has set out plans to overhaul the NHS pension rules to try to retain more senior doctors and encourage retired staff back into the workplace.
The changes to the pension rules include new 'flexibilities' to allow retired and partially retired staff to come back into work or increase the hours they work without having payments to their pension cut. It means staff can claim some or all of their pension benefits but keep working and paying into their pension and ministers are hopeful that it will encourage more staff to carry on working to ease the pressures that the NHS is facing this winter.
This winter looks set to be a perfect storm for the NHS with a higher than normal rate of seasonal viruses, striking staff and record waiting lists and vacancies.
NHS figures show there were 10 times more people in hospital with flu during the month of November (an average of 344 per day) than at the same time the previous year.
Health secretary Steve Barclay says: "We need a system where our most experienced clinicians don’t feel they have to reduce their workload or take early retirement because of financial worries.
“I also want to make it easier for staff that want to return to work to support the NHS to be able to do so without penalties. These proposed changes will help open up extra appointments so patients can see their GP and consultants more quickly.”
Last week vacancies in the NHS rose to a record high. At the end of September there were 133,446 full-time equivalent vacancies according to NHS Digital figures - a vacancy rate of 9.7%, the highest on record.