As retirement entails a huge change to your life style, it is worth making plans many years in advance. You will need to consider when you retire, as well as how – whether you want to continue working part time, for example.
Due to changes to laws regarding the default retirement age, it is now difficult for an NHS employer to insist that you retire. Your employer may say that you must retire entirely or are not able to operate after a particular age, to do this, they would have to justify their decision. There is more information about the default retirement age on the NHS Employers website and on the Department for Work and Pensions website.
There are a number of providers of retirement planning seminars, including the BMA. You may also want to employ a financial advisor who specialises in planning for retirement or working with doctors.
Involving your Trust / Unit in your retirement plans will help them with succession planning, and you may be able to overlap your retirement with the start of your replacement’s work.
Alternative work patterns
If you choose to retire relatively early, you may be able to renegotiate a part time contract, or stop doing on-call. You may also be able to negotiate this prior to retirement, but if you are on a final salary pension scheme, you should check the financial implications of this decision.
Alternative (post retirement) roles and voluntary roles
It is worth considering what other roles you might want to take on when you retire. If you want to continue to work in a role related to surgery, you could apply for various College positions, or get involved with a University surgical society as an informal tutor. If you would prefer to continue to do clinical work, organisations such as Medecins sans Frontieres offer opportunities to practice in developing countries. Equally, you may prefer to focus on personal projects, such as renovating a house, or writing a book.
Currently, it will be financially more beneficial to most consultant surgeons to retire around their 60th birthday, due to the structure of the NHS pension scheme. If you chose to do this, you may be able to re-negotiate a part time contract.
More information about the NHS pension is available from the NHS Business Services Authority.
From 16 November 2009 all doctors wishing to practice medicine in the UK will be required to hold both registration and a licence to practice. Retired doctors might wish to retain their registration to prove their good standing with the GMC if they intend to carry out non-clinical but related roles such as consultancy. It should be noted that doctors who are registered but not licensed may not continue to prescribe.