NHS Protection Benefits

What are your NHS protection benefits?

As a NHS doctor and a member of the NHS Pension Scheme you are entitled to a number of valuable additional benefits such as sick pay, life insurance and an ill health retirement pension. See the members guide here.

It is important to note that the sick pay and ill health pension are dependent on your superannuated salary and the number of years service that you have accumulated and therefore the benefit is limited in the early years of your career. To enhance your existing benefits see our section on doctors income protection.

Sick Pay

When you first start work as a doctor in the UK, you join the NHS sick pay scheme. You hope that you will be well protected should you become ill, in reality, within the first 5 years of work, the benefits are very, very poor and you are extremely vulnerable to financial hardship should you be ill for any length of time. As you can see from the table below, the NHS sick pay provision allows for you to receive full pay for varying periods of sickness dependent on service. At the end of this time, all payments will cease. It is important therefore, that any income replacement contract fits in with your existing provision. The maximum NHS benefit will pay for 12 months of sick leave, 6 months of which will only be at half pay.

Service Full pay Half pay
0 4 months 1 month
Next 8 months 1 month 2 months
1 year 2 months 2 months
2 years 4 months 4 months
3 years 5 months 5 months
5 years + 6 months 6 months

N.B. If you have a break in NHS service that is longer than 12 months then you will have your sick pay eligibility reset.

NHS Life Cover

As an active member of the NHS Pension Scheme life cover is provided at the rate of two times your salary as a hospital doctor (officer class) or two times your average dynamised earnings if a GP (practitioner).

Click here to use our NHS Pension calculator

Foundation Doctors and Specialist Trainees

Your salary is split into two elements, your basic salary and your on call allowance (banding payment). Your NHS Pension Scheme life insurance is calculated at the rate of twice your basic salary only.


When appointed to Consultant a larger part of your salary will be superannuated, and therefore will provide you with a higher level of death in service life cover.

The full time contract of 10 programmed activities (PAs), any on call supplement and Clinical Excellence awards and in most cases responsibility payments not paid as additional PAs are pensionable. Extra PAs are not normally pensionable.

Death benefits for dependents are based upon full time equivalent pay and service so if you work part time your actual service to the date of death is used rather than the part time income.

General Practitioners

Your life cover will be based on your career average re-valued earnings.

NHS Critical Illness Cover

The NHS pension scheme does not provide critical illness cover.

NHS Ill Health Retirement Pension

This benefit can commence after your sick pay ceases however there is no guarantee that an ill health pension will be granted as it is paid at the discretion of NHS Pensions and their medical advisers. An ill health pension could come into force if you are unable to work through sickness or illness. The amount you would receive is dependent upon your superannuated salary and the number of years service you have completed. The NHS offer enhancements to your service if you have completed at least 2 full years service.

If you have at least two years membership and are too ill to work in your present job you may be able to retire early and take your pension benefits.

There are two tiers of Ill health retirement and the benefits you get will depend on whether or not you are capable of undertaking employment elsewhere. The minimum pension age does not apply in the case of ill health retirement. Ill health pensions are increased each April in line with increases in the Retail Price Index.

Junior Doctors

If you have less than 2 years service then you have no eligibility. After 2 years service benefits would be based upon service to date and which tier of retirement you would be eligible for. Click here to view the Ill Health tiers.


If you have part time service, or worked as a maximum part time consultant this will affect your years service, and ultimately your ill health pension. Click here to view the Ill Health tiers.

General Practitioners

The ill health pension will be based on your career re-valued earnings and your years service. An estimate may be acquired upon the provision of specified information, this may then be used as a guide. Accurate information can be gained from the NHS pensions agency.