Lew Swift, HR director, Aintree Hospital Trust

• “I don’t think the Government is trying to brand people as skivers. I think it is trying to cut down on the enormous drain on the pension funds of people retiring early on grounds of ill-health.In the NHS there is a high incidence of sickness retirement but most of it is back injury which arises out of the work people do. The NHS has become extremely strict. It is not easy to get ill-health retirement.”

Claire Ward, social services personnel team leader, Nottingham City Council

• “Rules on early retirement in local government were changed in 1997. It was perceived that a lot of staff were taking early retirement on grounds of ill-health.It is now very hard to do this. We have a national shortage of people and we are trying everything we can to keep them.”

Jackie Wiltshire, head of personnel, Wokingham District Council

• “Ill-health retirement has been used as a substitute for good management but the emphasis now is on prevention. We are introducing policies to help staff balance work and other parts of their lives.”

Fred Broughton, chairman, Police Federation of England and Wales

• “Medical retirements are bound to be higher in the police service than other public-sector professions because of the very nature of the job and the risks that are involved.”

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