Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guide for health professions considering a return to the NHS Scotland

Guidance for different health professions consider a return to the NHS Scotland to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guide for health professions considering a return to the NHS Scotland
Questions and answers

Questions and answers

I’ve left the professional register – how do I return? Is it mandatory?

If you have left the professional register within the last three years, are aged under 70, and in good health, the Regulatory Bodies (NMC, GMC, HCPC, GPhC) have been given legislative powers to put in place an expedited process to return you to the register. However if you do not wish to re-register it is not mandatory to do so. If you consider that you may not be fit for patient-facing roles, there are a variety of other opportunities available, such as working with NHS24 or supporting other non-patient-facing duties.

You should have received a letter or email from your former Regulatory Body with instructions on what to do next if you do wish to re-register. If you have not received a letter or email then you can either contact your Regulatory Body. See the See the contacts page to find out how to get in touch.   

Will I have to pay to re-join the register?

No, the emergency legislation waives the need for any payment to the Regulatory Bodies.

Will I have to go through revalidation?

No, as you are joining the professional register within three years of leaving, the Regulatory Bodies are content that your practice and knowledge is recent enough to be competent.

What arrangements will be in place to support me to make sure I am safe to practice?

An appropriate induction will be in place for all registrants returning to practice. You should only practice in areas that you feel competent and safe to do so, and raise concerns with a manager or supervisor if you feel you are being asked to perform duties that are outside of your competency. You should be given adequate supervision and support from managers and other colleagues, and clinical governance arrangements will continue to be in place. You should have regard to your professional Code which will support your professional practice and accountability.  

Will returning healthcare professionals be provided with clinical indemnity cover?

If engaged by an NHS Board to provide NHS services, individuals will be covered by the Clinical Negligence and Other Risks Scheme (CNORIS) and the vicarious liability of their employer. There is no need to arrange any additional indemnity cover. The emergency legislation brought forward by the Government includes a ‘safety net’ indemnity clause, on top of the state-backed and privately provided indemnity schemes, ensuring there are no gaps in the indemnity cover and providing reassurance to healthcare workers and others assisting with NHS response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

What checks will be made and will I have a contract of employment?

Individual Boards or organisations will still undertake Disclosure checks, although these are expected to be expedited to allow rapid employment to be facilitated. Other normal employment processes, such as the need for a recent reference, will be determined by the employing organisation.  You will be employed under a formal contractual arrangement, with terms and conditions that are standardised across the NHS. Your place and pattern of work will be agreed between you and the employing organisation.

Contracts may be offered on a six month basis, however these are subject to extension by mutual arrangement, or terminated by giving your employer the necessary notice.

What will I be paid?

You will be remunerated at the rate applicable to the role you are undertaking; for instance the minimum rate of pay for a registered healthcare professional is at AFC band 5, however some posts may attract a higher rate of pay depending on the role and responsibilities. It is the Government’s intention that no-one who agrees to support the NHS in this emergency situation will be adversely financially affected, by say affecting your current pension and tax responsibilities. Further information is laid out in the sections below.

Find out more

See the contacts page to find out how to get in touch. 

Any support you can offer will be most gratefully received.

Links and sources of information

For further information, advice or support the following may be of interest:

Pensions and tax

What will be the pension payment arrangements for staff returning to the NHS to assist in the response to the Covid outbreak?

  • The government is bringing forward emergency legislation in response to the Covid outbreak that contains important information on pension arrangements for extra NHS staff. 
  • The legislation provides for the suspension of the 16-hour rule which currently prevents staff who return to work after retirement from the 1995 NHS Pension Scheme from working more than 16 hours per week, in the first four weeks after retirement.
  • The legislation also provides for the suspension of both the abatement for special class status holders in the 1995 Scheme and the requirement for staff in the 2008 Section and 2015 NHS Pension Scheme to reduce their pensionable pay by 10% if they elect to ‘draw down’ a portion of their benefits and continue working.
  • Taken together, these measures will allow skilled and experienced staff who have recently retired from the NHS to return to work, and they will also allow retired staff who have already returned to work to increase their commitments if required, without having their pension benefits suspended.
  • These measures are important in allowing individuals to return to work during a critical period for the NHS with clarity around their pension arrangements. 

When will these pension/tax measures take effect?

  • The legislation will give the Government the power to immediately bring these measures into effect, if required. 

What will happen when these pension/tax measures are no longer needed?

  • A 6-month notice period will be given to staff and employers before these measures will cease to apply, at which point the relevant sections of the scheme regulations will take effect again. Staff and employers will therefore have 6 months’ notice to readjust their working patterns.

The impact of pension tax on high-earning clinicians is a big issue and a barrier to extra capacity amongst existing NHS staff. What are you doing about that?

  • The manifesto pledged to address the taper problem in doctor’s pensions, which causes many to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills. The Chancellor will do this via a tax solution, as follows:
    • The annual allowance taper thresholds are increased by £90,000 from 6 April 2020. The taxable pay threshold rises from £110,000 to £200,000, and adjusted income threshold from £150,000 to £240,000.
    • However, to ensure that the very highest earners pay their fair share of pension tax, the minimum level to which the annual allowance can taper down will reduce from £10,000 to £4,000. This will only affect those with total income (including pension accrual) over £300,000.