The Health Partnership Scheme aims to increase international volunteering by UK health professionals, not only to contribute effectively to global health development, but also to bolster the skills of the UK health workforce once the volunteer returns.

A significant disincentive to longer term volunteering is the potential loss of pension contributions while overseas. The Government wants to enable any NHS employee who volunteers overseas through the Health Partnership Scheme to retain pension continuity without placing a burden on NHS employers.

1. The Government has therefore taken three steps:
  • as an HPS volunteer you can apply to remain in contributory membership of the NHS pension scheme, subject to the conditions in section 2 below.
  • if your placement is for a period of 6-24 months, the costs of your pension contributions (employer and employee) based on your pre-departure salary, up to a maximum of £15,000, will be met from a central Government fund.
  • If your placement is for 3-6 months and your employer grants you a career break, your employer can apply to the central fund to cover part or all the cost of contributions during your absence, subject to availability of funds. If the placement is for 3-6 months and you do not have an on-going employer (i.e. you resigned to take up the role), the HPS pensions support manager will discuss with you in advance the funding options, which may include self-funding.
2. You are eligible to remain in contributory membership of the NHS Pension Scheme if:
  • before volunteering you were working in an NHS pensionable job;
  • your HPS-supported volunteer placement starts between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2015, and lasts no longer than 24 months;
  • there is clear agreement in advance regarding who will make the pensions contributions (either your employer through a career       break, or HPS through a volunteering agreement), and how these costs will be met;
  • you intend to, and do, return to NHS employment as soon as your placement ends.  If not, contributions will not be credited to your pension account.

How Do I Apply

If you are interested in receiving pension support while you are volunteering, you first need to apply to the manager of the pension support fund at THET. Contact for more details.


Download Application Form