Working in both primary and secondary care
In relation to previous accrual in the 1995 and 2008 sections of the NHS pension scheme the way in which your benefits were calculated depended on whether you were working in primary or secondary care. Since joining the 2015 scheme on 1 April 2022 all members benefits in the NHS pension scheme prospectively accrue in the same way irrespective of whether you are working in primary or secondary care. However, the flexibilities which were provided in the 1995/2008 section will be protected for anyone who transitions to the 2015 Career Average Revalued Earning (CARE) scheme and has practitioner service in the 2015 scheme.
Accrual in the 2015 CARE scheme is based on 1/54th of pensionable pay for all members.
Primary care doctors’ benefits in the 1995 and 2008 sections were calculated on a practitioner career average revalued earnings (CARE) basis, while secondary care doctors’ benefits were calculated on a final salary basis.
If you have mixed service, where you have worked in primary care as well as in secondary care (for example as a house officer, senior house officer, registrar, clinical assistant etc), then your 1995/2008 section accrual may be calculated with reference to both the final salary and practitioner CARE methods.
Alternatively, and if more beneficial, some periods of secondary care service can be calculated via the practitioner CARE method.
The option to automatically be paid the better of final salary or practitioner CARE benefits in relation to secondary care service is known as the GP pension flexibilities.
GP pension flexibilities
The GP pension flexibilities enable certain periods of your 1995/2008 section secondary care service to be treated as though they were primary care for the purposes of the pension scheme.
This means that the pensionable earnings received in these secondary care posts may be dynamised to provide practitioner CARE benefits if more beneficial.
The pensions agencies will automatically compare the benefits available using both the final salary method and the practitioner CARE method, and pay you the highest pension. This is known as a ‘no detriment’ test.
Secondary care service that can convert to practitioner accrual
Only the following types of secondary care service can be converted using the flexibilities:
- secondary care service of any length undertaken before primary care service
- secondary care service which is concurrent with primary care service
- secondary care service of up to 365 calendar days which comes after your primary care service terminated.
Secondary care service that cannot convert to practitioner accrual
- Secondary care service which is sandwiched between periods of primary care service, but not concurrent, will always provide final salary benefits.
- Secondary care service of 365 calendar days duration or more which is undertaken after ceasing to be a primary care doctor, will always provide final salary benefits.
How any ongoing added years contract is treated whilst undertaking mixed officer and practitioner work
This depends on what type of added years you purchased:
- if you purchased ‘old style’ added years these will either be calculated based on your final salary or practitioner method depending on your job at the date of purchase. Old style added years can only be calculated in one way
- if you purchased ‘new style’ added years these will apply to all your service from the date of the purchase. If you have worked in both primary and secondary care your added years will potentially provide both final salary and practitioner benefits
- the added years will be subject to the same flexibilities that apply to the service undertaken during the period that they are being purchased.
If you worked in secondary care before primary care
Pre-GP secondary care service is less than 10 years
If your pre-GP secondary care service is less than 10 scaled years the following options are available in relation to that service:
- to provide final salary benefits, or
- the earnings from this service can be added to your dynamised earnings and treated as if they were GP income. These earnings will show on your dynamising sheet as ‘PRE’
- the GP pension can be increased in proportion to the amount of pre-GP work undertaken by a fraction which represents total NHS service (secondary care + GP) divided by GP service (example below)
- scaled years refers to periods where you have worked in secondary care for less than whole time hours. So if you worked for three years whole time then three years at 50% of whole time you would have six year of qualifying membership (calendar length) and 4.5 years of scaled membership.
Example of increased 1995 section pension
If you were a member of the 1995 section having worked for three years in secondary care, followed by 37 years as a GP, assuming an accrued GP pension of £25,200 this would be increased as follows:
- hospital service is three years
- GP service is 37 years
- total service is 40 years
- enhancement factor is 40/37.
Pension = £25,200 x 40/37 = £27,243.
Lump sum (3 x pension) = £81,729 (prior to any commutation).
Pre-GP secondary care service more than 10 years
If your pre-GP secondary care service is more than 10 scaled years the following options are available in relation to that service:
- to provide final salary benefits, or
- the earnings from this service can be added to your dynamised earnings and treated as if they were GP income.
If you have more than 10 scaled years of pre-GP service you are not able to increase your GP pension by the fraction quoted in the example above.
If you worked in secondary and primary care at the same time
If your concurrent secondary care service scales to less than one year then the earnings from this employment will be treated as GP earnings and be subject to dynamising.
If your concurrent secondary care service scales to more than one year the following options are available in relation to that service:
- to provide final salary benefits, or
- the earnings from this service can be added to your dynamised earnings and treated as if they were GP income. These earnings will show on your dynamising sheet as ‘CONC’.
If you worked in secondary care after primary care
If your post primary care service is for less than 365 calendar days, the earnings from this employment will be treated as GP earnings and be subject to dynamising. These earnings will show on your dynamising sheet as ‘POST’.
If your post primary care service is for more than 365 calendar days, your benefits from this post will be calculated with reference to the final salary method.
If you worked in secondary care in-between periods of working in primary care
If you have periods of secondary care service which do not pre-date your first GP post and are not concurrent with your GP work this is known as ‘sandwiched’ secondary care service.
The pension accrued during this type of secondary care service will be calculated using the final salary method but will increase in line with dynamising rather than just with pensions increase. Dynamising is based on pension increase (currently CPI) plus 1.5%.
The GP pension flexibilities do not apply to this type of service.
Transferring into the NHS pension scheme from previous employment
If the transfer was while you were working in primary care the transfer value will be treated as a pay credit and dynamised.
If the transfer was while you were working in secondary care the transfer value can be treated as either a service credit (final salary benefits) or as a pay credit (practitioner CARE benefits), depending on which method provides the better pension benefits.
Joining the 2015 NHS pension scheme
On moving to the 2015 scheme you will be credited with a Flexibility Value Earnings Credit (FVEC). This is a value calculated based on your last day of service in the 1995/2008 section. This could be 31 March 2022 depending on whether you are subject to the McCloud judgement and the choice made in relation to the remedy period service.
To protect the flexibilities detailed above, which operated in the 1995 and 2008 sections, a Flexibilities Value Earnings Credit (FVEC) is calculated. This is done by using the following formula:
F= total amount of pension accrued in the 1995/2008 section as at the last day of service applying the flexibilities detailed in the sections above.
P= total amount of pension accrued in the 1995/2008 section as at the last day of service based solely on practitioner accrual (where post GP service of less than 365 days accrues as practitioner benefits)
A= the relevant scheme accrual (1.4% in 1995 section or 1.87% in the 2008 section)
If you worked concurrently in secondary care and primary care and your secondary care service produced less than 365 days of scaled service (where part-time service is reduced to its full time equivalent) this will automatically be converted to GP service and will be included in the "P" element of the FVEC formula.
This credit is increased between the last day of service in the 1995/2008 section and the day before a break of more than 5 years, last day of service in the 2015 scheme or the day of accessing 1995/2008 section benefits.
When you retire your 1995/2008 section secondary care benefits will be paid as the higher of:
- the revalued FVEC pension; or
- a pension calculated using scaled service and final salary at retirement.