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Mental Health Officers

A Mental Health Officer (MHO) is a person who: 

(i) worked full-time on the medical or nursing staff of a hospital used for the treatment of patients suffering from mental disorder before 1st April 1995, 

(ii) a  part-time specialist who is employed for the whole or almost the whole of their time in the direct treatment or care of patients suffering from mental disorder, 

(iii) have not had a break of more than five years in any pensionable NHS employment. 

Normal Retirement Age for Mental Health Officers is 55 (providing members are working as Mental Health Officer immediately prior to retirement). 

After 20 calendar years MHO service, each year of MHO service will count as two years for benefit purposes. 

If a member had previously refunded MHO service, this may be included when calculating the 20 years MHO service for doubling purposes, if this works out more beneficial for the member. Providing that the member is over age 50 at the point they reach 20 years service. If a member is under age 50 this point, only service after age 50 will count as two years for benefit purposes. 

 

Mental Health Officer Status will be lost if members: 

(i) move to a post which does not devote whole or almost the whole the time in the direct treatment or care of patients suffering from mental disorder and do not return to an MHO post within five years, 

(ii) have a break in service of more than five years. 

If members who hold Mental Health Officer status are made redundant without becoming entitled to an immediate pension they may in certain circumstances retain their right to retire at age 55. 

 

The maximum service (including non-contributing service) for Mental Health Officers is: 

(i) 40 calendar years at age 55,

(ii) 45 calendar years at age 60.

If a member with MHO status reaches 40 calendar years before age 55, then the service will be restricted between the day that 40 calendar years is reached and the day before the member's 55th birthday (although contributions continue to be paid during this period).  

After member reaches 55, the service continues to reckon until 45 years contributing service is reached. If 45 years service is completed before age 60, then service to age 60 will be restricted (although contributions continue to be paid 60th birthday). 

Contributions must cease either on completion of 45 years service or age 60, whichever is later. Benefits cannot be paid until a member ceases NHS employment. 

For members who are part-time, the maximum service and service restrictions are based on calendar length service not actual service.

If a member with Mental Health Officer status leaves NHS employment before becoming entitled to a pension, their benefits will be preserved based on the service and salary at date of leaving NHS employment and will attract Pensions Increase from the date of leaving to take account of rises in the cost of living. 

Preserved MHO service will be calculated as: 

Basic Service: the member’s actual pensionable service.

Potential Basic Service: the pensionable service the member could have completed if the member had stayed in pensionable employment until age 55. 

Potential Service: the pensionable service the member could have completed (including doubled years), if the member had stayed in pensionable employment as a mental health officer until age 55.

Link to Scottish Government Website