• Organisations involved in accountable care and new care models could access NHS pension
  • Government revives changes to pension scheme

The government has launched a consultation to make it easier for independent providers and organisations involved in new care model and accountable care contracts to have access to the NHS pension scheme.

As part of the move to new care models across the country, the government intends to extend access to the NHS pension for the employees of organisations providing NHS funded care.

The changes are designed to support the rollout of changes outlined in the Five Year Forward View. The rules will apply to accountable care organisations and any subcontracts they hold with providers, including independent sector companies.

Multispecialty community provider and primary and acute care system contracts will be included in the changes.

There are currently 23 vanguard sites piloting the MCP and PACS models as part of the new care model programme.

Under the ACO model and integrated services contracts, some providers would shift from holding contracts directly with commissioners to having contracts with a lead provider. In October 2016, the Department of Health consulted on changing pension scheme regulations but these changes were withdrawn “because of timing issues with finalisation of the MCP framework.”

Now the DH has revived the changes with updates to include the newly published ACO framework.

The consultation document said: “In particular the new amendments address scheme access for employees delivering services that are a combination of NHS and health related local authority functions; the earlier MCP amendments contemplated scheme access for delivering integrated NHS clinical services only. In doing so, the guiding principle is to ensure employers and their employees who deliver NHS services are able to participate in the scheme.

“These integrated services may be a combination of primary and secondary NHS care for example, or there may be integration of NHS and social care services. In the latter case, the integrated nature of services may mean some roles could include delivering health related local authority functions such as social care alongside traditional NHS duties.

“The department intends there to be continuity of scheme membership, and eligibility for new employees, for staff working under an ACO contract or subcontract whose role is wholly or mainly delivering NHS clinical services.

“[For] independent providers of NHS services, access to the scheme is conditional on holding a qualifying contract (eg: the standard NHS contract) primarily for the purpose of providing NHS clinical services, with membership only for employees who wholly or mainly spend their time working on that contract. This allows the possibility that such employees can spend a minority of their time on non-NHS work but ‘pension’ their whole salary, not just the portion attributable to the NHS contract. To control the scope of non-NHS income being pensionable in the scheme, the total amount of pensionable pay permitted across all eligible employees is limited to 75 per cent of the contract value.”

Other amendments to the pension rules include allowing locum doctors and other staff to pension income from an ACO subcontract providing the pensionable payments are made by a “employing authority”.

The consultation will close on 29 December.