The head of the new independent body responsible for pay and conditions in the health service, NHS Employers, has said union concerns over changes to the NHS pension scheme are “understandable” and that he expects more disquiet throughout the year.
Earlier this month, NHS Employers announced a three-month consultation on proposals to raise the retirement age from 60 to 65 and to shift pensions from a final salary to career average scheme.
Public sector unions have reacted angrily, organising a day of protest against the move on 18 February.
Steve Barnett, director of NHS Employers, told Personnel Today: “Public sector unions are understandably unhappy about the proposal to move the retirement age. But what needs to be considered is the range of new benefits available to members.”
The original NHS pension scheme has not undergone a significant review since its creation in 1948, and was initially designed for employees who spent 40 years in the service and retired at the age of 60.
“That service profile simply doesn’t exist any more,” said Barnett. “The average length of service on retirement now is 18 years, not 40.”
He said the proposals reflected these changes and the fact the NHS was going to be reliant – like many employers – on an older workforce in the future.