Image of two healthcare professionals working on a ward depicting NHS staff returning to work after retirement

Thousands of retired staff return to NHS after pension changes

Thousands of retired staff are returning to work to help the health service, new figures from NHS England have revealed.

NHS workforce data showed that, of the 10,300 nursing staff who retired between July 2021 and June 2022, 4,600 (44%) had rejoined the health system within 12 months – a four percentage point increase on the previous year.

The extra returners come after the extension of changes to the pension rules which were first introduced in 2020.

The changes meant that staff who could retire at 55 – such as nurses, midwives, physiotherapists and health visitors – could return to work without it affecting their pension, even if they work full time.

Since 1 April 2023, staff have also been able to rejoin the pension scheme and build it further if they wish.

The increase follows additional changes that saw NHS England make flexible working arrangements for every role mandatory.

                                                                             Video credit: Canva

Wider health service figures mirror the trend seen in nursing, with 12,800 of the 34,500 (37%) NHS staff who retired during the 12 months leading up to June 2022, coming back within a year.

Since the start of this month, staff have been able to engage in a so-called partial retirement – i.e., instead of fully retiring, staff can draw some, or all, of their pension while continuing to work and build up their pension – this is subject to a reduction in pensionable pay.

NHS England’s chief workforce, training and education officer, Dr Navina Evans, said: “The NHS is hugely grateful to staff who have given years of service to care and treat patients and we recognise their skills and experience as being massively beneficial to the healthcare service.

“However, we understand that as people approach the end of their careers, they want to enjoy a higher degree of flexibility in their working life.”

She concluded: “The retire and return arrangements help the NHS to retain highly experienced staff for longer, which supports colleagues and patients and also helps the NHS realise the ambitions laid out in the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan.”

If you want to learn more about innovation for NHS staff, register for National Health Executive’s Workforce virtual event.

Image credit: iStock

NHE Nov/Dec 2023

NHE Nov/Dec 2023

AI is key in helping dementia patients live independently for longer.

The Nov/Dec 2023 edition of NHE brings you expert comment and analysis on a range of key health sector topics, from digital transformation to navigating post-pandemic challenges.


View all videos
National Health Executive Presents

National Health Executive Presents

NHE365 Virtual Events

NHE has created a full calendar of events to address the most important issues that influence the delivery of healthcare services. Over 365 days you'll have the opportunity to hear from a range of highly motivating, informative and inspirational speakers. These speakers will equip you with the knowledge and unique insight to enable you to overcome the challenges that you face.

National Health Executive Podcast

Ep 39.
What makes a good NHS manager? with Anthony Painter, Director of Policy at Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

In episode 39 of the National Health Executive podcast, we were joined by Anthony Painter, who is the director of policy at the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), to discuss all things management within the UK health sector and NHS.

During the podcast, Anthony shared some of the recent research CMI conducted in partnership with the Social Market Foundation, which centred around the state of management and leadership within the NHS.

More articles...

View all