Extending Working Life - Health Professionals Late Career Transitions, a Demographic Time Bomb for the UKs National Health Service

Andrew Weyman, Alan Buckingham, Deborah Roy

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


    The recently introduced increases in pension age for UK National Health Service (NHS) employees (rising to 68 years by 2028) sponsors the intuitive conclusion that this will result in people working longer and retiring later. While this is likely to be the case for a proportion of employees, there are grounds for speculating that this may not be the outcome for a large proportion of NHS workers. Our reasons for believing this are based on an analysis of NHS age demographics and employment migration patterns, using a sub-set of data from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS)Labour Force Survey (the Annual Population Survey - APS, and the five-quarterly longitudinal 5QLFS), for the period 1993-2012. The APS produces an annual sample of 4,100-4,200 NHS employees. This analysis, commissioned by the tripartite NHS Working Longer Review Group, revealed an established trend of a large proportion of employees leaving the NHS significantly before their pension date, a process that begins from about age 50 years onwards. A high proportion of this group continue in employment outside the NHS. It also revealed that NHS employees have a relatively high, and rising, mean age (currently 43 years), around four years higher than the private sector. The mean for some professions is appreciably higher than this (e.g. 48 years for paramedics). If the established pattern of early withdrawal continues, in the context of a rising mean age, there is a risk that the NHS will experience significant labour shortages within a decade. The paper discusses what is known about the push and pull influences that are associated with early withdrawal, the post-NHS employment destinations of those who leave, and the scope for employer action to increase rates of retention of older health professionals.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationUniversity of Bath
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 13 Apr 2016


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