§ Mr. Ralph Howell
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in what circumstances re-employment of National Health Service staff, retired under the early retirement scheme, is permitted.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
[pursuant to his reply, 16 February 1984, c. 323.]: There is no formal bar on re-employment within the NHS of officers who have taken premature retirement, although in common with other public service pensioners there is provision for abatement of pension if earnings exceed certain levels. However, as my right hon. Friend made clear on 14 December in reply to a question from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) at c. 523–4, we do not consider that any individual who has received substantial benefits following premature retirement under the arrangements announced in 1981 should be re-employed without specific justification. We therefore asked regional health authorities to review all current cases to see whether there were adequate grounds for continuance of employment and to inform us of the results of their review.
The criteria we laid down for the review were that in general we would not expect an authority to re-employ a prematurely-retired officer at the same level as before other than to fill a temporary need that could not be foreseen at the time of premature retirement and that could not otherwise be filled except by recruiting an officer for whom the authority would have no continuing need. As to re-employment at a more junior level, we would not expect a retired officer to be re-employed in preference to recruiting a suitably qualified officer direct, and we expected such a re-employment to continue only until such time as a direct recruitment was possible.
Once the review has been completed, we shall consider whether further guidance to authorities is needed. But in the light of progress on the review to date, we have concluded that no further re-employments should take place without specific authorisation by Ministers.