Delay return of abatement or risk NHS exodus, Quilter warns government

by | Feb 4, 2022

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-Over 7,000 NHS staff may retire in March to avoid a pension penalty

– Quilter urges Health Secretary to delay return of abatement


Quilter has revealed today that it has written to the Health Secretary to warn the government that it risks an NHS exodus if the return of abatement is not extended beyond March 2022.

Figures obtained by Quilter through a Freedom of Information request revealed that over 7,000 doctors and nurses could be at risk of a financial penalty on their pension once the Coronavirus Act powers expire in March 2022, and could therefore leave the health service as a result.

The Act allows recently retired NHS staff to return to work and tackle the pandemic without suffering a penalty on their pension. The temporary suspension comes to an end on 24th March 2022, at which point NHS workers’ pension will be reduced pound for pound if their earnings plus the ‘unearned’ element of their NHS pension, exceed their pre-retirement NHS pensionable earnings, which is called ‘abatement’.


Data from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) shows that it has mailed 10,729 NHS pension scheme members in relation to the upcoming legislative changes of which 7,470 could be adversely impacted by the return of abatement.

The letter requests the government considers using provisions granted under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to extend the ‘abatement’ powers contained in the Act, until such a time when the health service is under less pressure.

Graham Crossley, NHS pensions specialist at Quilter commented:


“The clock is ticking before the government risks thousands of NHS workers leaving the health service, at such a critical time, all because of a relatively mundane pension rule.

“Many NHS workers will have already received their letters and will be making the decision as to carrying on working after 25th March, should that mean a penalty on their pension.

“Although recent headlines about pandemic have been more positive, there are still significant pressures on the NHS and the prospect of thousands of NHS staff leaving in March to understandably avoid a financial penalty will add to an already challenging situation.


“The good news is that there is a quick fix to the impending problem. The Coronavirus Act 2020 includes provisions to allow the extension to any of the powers contained within the bill and this issue should be raised urgently in government.

“While the attention of the government appears to be firmly elsewhere at the moment, it’s important they remember the here and now of the health service.”



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