Guide to the NHS Pension Scheme for practitioners

How NHS pensions are calculated for GPs and GDPs

Introduction

GPs have had access to the NHS Pension Scheme since 1948. While the structure of the scheme is largely the same for practitioners as it is for hospital doctors and dentists, there are some key differences too – most notably in how benefits are accrued and calculated.

This guide shows how the NHS pension works for GPs and General Dental Practitioners…

The NHS pension for practitioners

The way in which your NHS pension is calculated is based not just on your role (officer or practitioner), but on when you joined the scheme. As you may have seen in our guide to the NHS pension, the scheme is broken down into three parts – the 1995 and 2008 sections of the old scheme, and the new 2015 scheme.

For practitioners, both the 1995 and 2008 sections and the 2015 Scheme are CARE (career average revalued earnings) schemes. This is different from the officers’ NHS pension, and has some important implications which we’ll explore in more detail below.

There are other key distinctions to consider, not least the employment status of GPs and GDPs, many of whom are self-employed or company directors. It should be noted that where a GP only performs CCG work under a self-employed contract for services arrangement (and they are not a GP elsewhere) they do not have access to the NHS Pension Scheme.

If a GP is employed by a CCG under a contract of service (employment), they are an officer in the NHS Pension Scheme, and should refer to the guidance in this NHS pension guide for officers.

How practitioners’ pension benefits are calculated

1995 scheme members

Every year you belong to the NHS Pension Scheme, your earnings are added to a pot, the total of which is revalued annually to factor in inflation. The resulting figure is known as your ‘uprated earnings’.

If you are a GP or GDP in the 1995 NHS Pension Scheme, you will receive an annual pension based on 1.4% of your total uprated earnings.

The table below shows how much a GP or GDP might get today if retiring at the normal retirement age (find out more about the normal retirement age in our NHS pension guide).

Pension a GP might get when they retire (1995 section), based on average annual earnings* and years spent in scheme:
 
£40k avg
£50k avg
£60k avg
£70k avg
£80k avg
£90k avg
£100k avg
10 yrs in scheme
£5,600
£7,000
£8,400
£9,800
£11,200
£12,600
£14,000
20 yrs in scheme
£11,200
£14,000
£16,800
£19,600
£22,400
£25,200
£28,000
30 yrs in scheme
£16,800
£21,000
£25,200
£29,400
£33,600
£37,800
£42,000
40 yrs in scheme
£22,400
£28,000
£33,600
£39,200
£44,800
£50,400
£56,000

*For example, if over a 10 year period you built up total up-rated earnings of £750,000, your average annual earnings would be £75,000. 

2008 scheme members

In the 2008 section, your pension is based on 1.87% of your up-rated earnings. There’s no automatic lump sum, but you can usually take up to 25% of the notional fund value as a tax-free lump sum if you wish (though you would receive a reduced pension).

The maximum lump sum you can take works out at approximately 4.28 times your 2008 section pension.

If you were originally a member of the 1995 scheme but moved to the 2008 section, part of your pension will automatically be given up in place of lump sum - equivalent to the lump-sum value you built up in the 1995 scheme.

The table below shows how much you might get today if retiring at the normal retirement age, without taking any lump sum.

Pension a GP might get when they retire (2008 section), based on average annual earnings and years spent in scheme:
 
£40k avg
£50k avg
£60k avg
£70k avg
£80k avg
£90k avg
£100k avg
10 yrs in scheme
£5,600
£9,350
£11,220
£13,090
£14,960
£16,830
£18,700
20 yrs in scheme
£11,200
£18,700
£22,440
£26,180
£29,920
£33,660
£37,400
30 yrs in scheme
£16,800
£28,050
£33,660
£39,270
£44,880
£50,490
£56,100
40 yrs in scheme
£22,400
£37,400
£44,880
£52,360
£59,840
£67,320
£74,800

2015 scheme members

As a tapered or transition member of the 2015 section, you will receive an annual pension calculated at 1/54th of each year’s pensionable pay. Like the previous schemes, this amount is revalued each year in line with inflation.

There’s no automatic lump sum, but you may be able to take one in exchange for some of your annual pension (the maximum lump sum you can take works out at approximately 4.28 times your 2015 Scheme pension).

Any benefits you built up in the previous sections, prior to the transition to the 2015 section, are preserved.

Notably, the 2015 scheme operates in the same way whether you’re an officer (like a hospital doctor or dentist) or a practitioner.

For more details on the 2015 scheme, you can read our guide to the NHS Pension Scheme.

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