Thousands seek partial retirement in just three months

Published on: 6 Feb 2024

More than 3,000 NHS staff have applied for partial retirement in the first three months of the rules on pension claims for staff doing so being changed, new data has revealed. 

Since October 2023, NHS staff aged 55 and above have been allowed to partially retire from the health service while both continuing to contribute to their pension and receive their pension, provided they reduce their pensionable pay by at least 10 per cent. While flexible retirement is already available to staff in the newer NHS pension schemes, this change extended the rule to the older schemes. 

Figures obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request show that 3,266 members of the NHS pension scheme had already applied for partial retirement by the beginning of January. This includes 1,215 successful applications for October 2023.

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer added: “Our members were long clear about the need to reform and modernise pension scheme membership in the NHS. These figures confirm the strong interest in flexible retirement benefits.”

Wesleyan Financial Services submitted the FOI request to the NHS Business Services Authority. Its specialist financial adviser Jonathan Halberda said: “Before these changes were announced, many of the most experienced medical professionals faced a stark choice – stay or go.

“The rule change gives them a third option, and will no doubt help some stay in jobs that they love.”

The partial retirement changes were part of a package of measures announced last year designed to make flexible working in the NHS more attractive. Another key rule change made it easier for staff who had already retired to return to work while still claiming pension benefits

According to the latest NHS workforce statistics available on staff leaving, 19,132 staff left the health service in the 12 months to September 2023 because they had reached retirement age, while a further 2,252 took voluntary early retirement and another 6,237 took flexi retirement. 

Also according to the latest available NHS workforce statistics, 307,502 members of NHS hospital and community health service staff were aged 55 or over at the end of September 2023, which is 21 per cent of just under 1.5 million people working in these organisations.