Pension rule changes will apply to senior nurses

Author: Mark Gould

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Following questions from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that the proposed changes to pension rules that allow consultants and GPs to take on extra shifts without incurring punitive tax deductions, will also be applied to senior nurses.

Yesterday the DHSC announced plans to change NHS pension rules to allow senior staff to take on extra shifts without losing out financially. The RCN said the announcement focuses on doctors, who have been refusing to do overtime shifts as changes to the annual tax-free allowance meant surprise bills were cancelling out additional earnings. The proposed changes would allow senior NHS doctors to scale down pension contributions and avoid the extra tax bill.

However, the RCN says language of the department’s announcement was unclear, leaving senior nursing staff unsure as to whether they will benefit too. When contacted by OnMedica the DHSC said that the proposed flexibility for senior clinicians does include nurses but did not provide any more details.

RCN national officer Nicola Lee said: “Nurses, who make up the largest staff group in NHS organisations, will expect to see the benefits of these reforms applying to them. But more people should see the advantages of these considerable changes than just high-earning doctors managing their tax liabilities.

“We know that the taxation problem affects very senior nurses, but other members have also told us they’ve considered leaving the NHS scheme because they cannot afford payments even though they know this puts them at a disadvantage when they retire. Yet, they feel they have no other choice.

“The RCN wants these changes to go further. We want full pension flexibility for all NHS staff to make the health service’s pension scheme attractive and affordable to all.

“We look forward to greater clarity from the DHSC about who exactly, besides hospital consultants, is set to gain and how they can widen these changes so that they help to tackle the worsening workforce crisis among nurses."

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