NHS pensioners hit record high in April

April saw a record number of pension benefits being awarded to NHS members, indicating a significant jump in those retiring.

There were 8,902 NHS pensions awarded in April, a rise of 28% year-on-year.

There has been a steady increase in the number of NHS members being awarded their pension benefits this year.

January saw 4,698 members awarded their pension, a 3.5% year on year. This was followed by a 7.6% rise in February and a 16.3% increase in March (year-on-year).

Financial Planner and wealth manager Quilter said it has concerns that paying annual allowance charges due to inflation will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” for many healthcare workers and this could be the beginning of a significant upward trend in the number of members leaving the NHS.

During the Coronavirus pandemic the abatement rules were suspended to allow recently retired NHS staff to return to work without a penalty on their pension. The suspension of the rules has been extended to October, but Quilter said this may need to be extended again.

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Graham Crossley, NHS pension specialist at Quilter, said: “Although our data does not delve into the specific reasons for the exodus from the NHS, we are hearing that healthcare workers are simply exhausted, feel undervalued and want out of the NHS for a better quality of life.

“It has been said that chronic workforce shortages are seriously undermining efforts to recover from the pandemic. The situation could become significantly worse if the calls to address issues with NHS pensions go unheeded.

“We are already seeing the upward trends in the number of members retiring early or retiring at 60, when once they might have considered continuing to work past their original normal retirement age. The perverse rules, such as the upcoming disastrous tax bills due to inflation, serve to hasten decisions to leave the NHS.

“The whole taxation system needs careful review by both HMRC and the DHSC but, at the very least, there are two issues that can be quickly resolved. The upcoming end of the suspension of abatement rules needs to be extended indefinitely and s235(3) Finance Act 2004 needs to be amended so that annual allowance only measures growth above inflation, as intended. This will help to ensure the NHS can tackle the growing backlog.”

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NHS pensioners hit record high in April