The body which handles NHS pensions is struggling to process applications on time after a 50 per cent increase in retirements from the service.
HSJ has learned that hundreds of retirees who should have had their first pension packets in July saw the payments delayed. The NHS Business Services Authority admitted there had been delays to some pension applications and pointed to an increase in its workload as a factor in this.
New workforce data published by NHS Digital showed a surge of retirements in the fourth quarter of 2021-22, and there are indications of a continued high volume of applications over the last four months.
The workforce statistics showed there were 9,737 retirements in the three months to April 2022, which was at least 50 per cent higher than the numbers reported in the same period in any of the last five years (see table).
It comes amid wider concerns around staff burnout after the pandemic, and a surge in voluntary resignations. There have also been warnings of senior staff choosing to retire earlier than planned due to changes to pension tax thresholds.
In a statement, NHSBSA said: “We continue to process the majority of retirement applications within the usual 30 days, but due to increases in workload and it being our busiest time of year, we are experiencing some temporary delays to some of the more complex cases.
“We apologise to those affected and have introduced several measures to improve timescales, including increasing the number of staff we have available to support processing.
“Of the 6,580 cases processed and paid in July, 83 per cent (5,465) were processed within the 30-day timeframes. We expect with the additional measures we have put in place and the increased resource that these delays will be resolved by the end of August and all cases will be processed within the 30-day timeframes.”
NHSBSA typically processes more than 99 per cent of payments within the 30-day timeframe.