§ Mr. Milburn
Responsibility for this matter has been delegated to the National Health Service Pensions Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. A. F. Cowan. I have asked him to reply to the hon. Member.
Letter from A. F. Cowan to Mr. Chris Breed, dated 11 December 1997:The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question, as it falls within my area of responsibility.There are statutory regulations governing entitlement to an ill-health pension from the NHS Scheme. They are defined in Regulation E2 of the NHS Pension Scheme Regulations 1995:A member who retires from pensionable employment because of physical or mental infirmity that makes him permanently incapable of efficiently discharging the duties of that employment shall be entitled to a pension under this regulation if he has at least 2 years qualifying service…".There are, therefore four main criteria for determining applications:
- (a) that there must be sufficient service to qualify for a pension;
- (b) that the member is retiring;
- (c) that the contract of employment is being terminated on the grounds that they are incapable of efficiently discharging their duties of employment through ill-health;
- (d) that their condition is permanent.The judgement about permanence is solely a medical one. In practice this is set against the time between retirement and the normally expected retirement age.687WThe statutory regulations have not changed since 1992. They changed before then, in 1988 to reduce the qualifying period for pensions from 5 to 2 years.The criteria have not been changed since 1992. The organisation providing independent advice on the issue of permanence had to be changed on 1 April 1997 because of the withdrawal of the service by the previous organisation.