24 hour NHS retirement – piece of cake, right?

Afraid not! The process for 24 hour retirement from your NHS contract can be complex and will take quite some time. Faisal Dhalla, a partner in the specialist commercial dental team at Hempsons shares his tips and advice for ensuring your 24 hour retirement goes smoothly.

24 hour retirement – what is it?

It allows dentists who are members of the NHS Pension Scheme to receive their pension benefits and then return to work.

Two key rules need to be followed as part of the process:
(1) The dentist must retire from his/her NHS contract for at least 24 hours.
(2) The dentist cannot work more than 16 hours per week in the first month after the pension becomes payable.

What can go wrong?

The process is not so bad if you are in a partnership and temporarily retiring from that partnership – although, there will be a number of matters to consider to ensure that you can get back into the partnership after your temporary retirement. However, the process is far from straightforward if you are a single-handed practitioner. This is because NHS England is not obliged to issue a new NHS contract when the 24 hour retirement is effected and the single-handed practitioner comes off the NHS contract. NHS England guidance states that:

“The Commissioner may wish to suggest singlehanded practitioners take independent advice, as 24-hour retirement would necessitate the termination of the contract. The Commissioner must make clear to the contractor that there is no guarantee that the Commissioner would commission services from that individual following termination.”

How do you mitigate the risk of losing your NHS contract?

As a single-handed practitioner, you can safeguard your contract by entering into a temporary partnership with another registered dentist (not a dental care professional as a dental care professional cannot hold the contract on his/her own). The contract will be put into the name of the partnership and then you would retire from the partnership for 24 hours. You would then come back on the contract.

In accordance with NHS regulations, there is a prescribed process you will need to follow carefully and various notices will need to be submitted to NHS England.

As you will be coming off the contract for 24 hours and leaving it in the name of someone else, you will need to do this with someone you trust and you will need to have a robust Partnership Agreement in place. You will also need a notice addressed to NHS England, signed by you and your partner, giving you the ability to remove your partner from the contract once you are back on the contract after your 24 hour retirement.

There is also the NHS BSA Form AW8 which you will need to complete in respect of your 24 hour retirement. This should not be submitted to the BSA until you have agreed your 24 hour retirement date with NHS England.

What about the CQC?

As part of the 24 hour retirement process, it is important to think about your CQC registration. If you are in a partnership registration, the CQC has some guidance on what should happen and this should be followed. The guidance doesn’t appear to address what happens with a single-handed practitioner who is setting up a temporary partnership. However, our recent experience on this matter suggests that, if the partnership is to only last for 24 hours, there is no need to have a new CQC partnership registration. If, however, for some reason, the partnership is to last for a longer period, you may be required to get your partnership registered with the CQC first – before the NHS will deal with this matter for you. Registering a partnership with the CQC can take 10 – 12 weeks and you will need to ensure that all partners in the partnership have valid DBS certificates in place (counter-signed by the CQC) before the CQC partnership application can be made.

Does it take long?

Unfortunately, yes. Further, you will need to take specialist legal advice to ensure that you are complying with: the terms of your NHS contract, NHS England’s dental contract guidance (which changes from time to time), CQC requirements, the process laid down by the NHS BSA and also new guidance recently published by the Department of Health on temporary retirement in the NHS.

The team at Hempsons can help you navigate all of this and protect your NHS contract throughout the process.

We can assist with:

  • Drafting a Partnership Agreement
  • Preparing the relevant notices for NHS England and advising you on the timings for submission of these notices
  • Compliance with CQC rules and helping with CQC forms
  • Liaising with NHS England on your behalf – so you can get on with your day job!

Continue reading other articles:

Introduction to Hempsons’ Dental NewsletterIs your dental practice ready for GDPR; Selling or buying a dental practice; Leasing premises – do you know what you’re letting yourself in for?; The delicate balance – ill heath dismissals.