New pension measures to help NHS Scotland retain highly experienced staff have been announced by the SNP Government.
From 01 December 2019, an interim policy will give eligible NHS staff the option to have their employer pension contributions paid to them as part of their basic pay.
UK Tory Government pension rules mean that highly experienced staff can face additional tax liabilities, which has led to some staff deciding to reduce their hours or retire early.
This new policy will provide eligible staff with an alternative option to restricting their hours in order to reduce financial penalties and will ensure crucial services are maintained as demand on the health service continues to increase. It will run until the end of the current financial year, 31 March 2020.
Ms Freeman said:
“Our hard-working staff should not face a financial penalty for working to provide vital services for patients, and I have repeatedly called for action from the UK Government on this as this matter is reserved.
“Our staff are valued and they should be supported and able to work for our NHS and its patients for as long as they wish. This is just one of the steps we are taking to ensure we retain and build a sustainable medical workforce.
“This will make a significant contribution to supporting frontline services and medical specialities who are working round the clock to deliver the highest possible quality of care.
“This new option will also help to support recruitment and retention of staff, encouraging health professionals to build their careers here in Scotland’s NHS.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP commented:
“I am pleased that the SNP Government’s sustained efforts, including letters from our Health Secretary to the UK Government in May, June and July, appear to have led to a rethink.
“We know from experience here in North Ayrshire that UK Government pension rules have been a major factor in whether experienced GPs and other health professionals take early retirement, which has had a major impact on communities.
“Especially at this time we need to retain all the experience we can get at the NHS and I welcome this measure.”
The interim scheme will be available to all staff who can evidence that they are likely to breach the Annual Allowance in the 2019/20 financial year and generate a tax charge as a result.
Unfortunately, rules regarding pension taxation are wholly reserved to the UK Government and any changes to the NHS pension scheme require the consent of HM Treasury.