If you are a medical or HR director reading this, you may be worrying about a possible ‘brain drain’ of experienced psychiatrists from your organisation. Working in the NHS has become very stressful, and many doctors are choosing to retire as soon as they can. While new pension arrangements may discourage doctors from retiring early, they do little for the morale and enthusiasm of older staff.
New Horizons tries to boost morale and suggest ways in which, rather than fully retiring as soon as possible, doctors with great experience and skill may continue to use their abilities to the benefit of society, whether that means in their own trust or other areas of practice. With flexibility and creativity on both sides it is possible to enhance the motivation and energy of experienced doctors, and to use that to the advantage of medical organisations.
There are major advantages in re-employing psychiatrists who have retired. Not only are senior clinicians retained but there may also be financial savings. Employers do not have to pay NHS pension contributions, and, depending on age and years worked, may not have to pay NICs. Discretionary awards are not paid after retirement. Older doctors are likely to be very experienced, and it is likely that they are able to work more quickly and efficiently than less experienced doctors, and to deal with more complex cases more effectively.
Their skill and knowledge can save money in many ways, for example, by providing supervision and advice which could avoid costly and time-consuming errors. Their experience can be of value in developing trust policies and procedures in complex areas. More experienced doctors are well placed to carry out certain kinds of roles in trusts such as mentoring newly appointed Consultants.
Doctors who wish to retire and return to work do not have a right to expect their previous employer to re-employ them. However, as some doctors may wish to retain the benefits of continued employment and working in a professional organisation, they may be willing to offer to work in more flexible ways, according to organisational needs. Flexibility on both sides can benefit both the organisation and the doctor.