Eleven nurses and 21 healthcare assistants have been forced to retire by an East Midlands primary care trust despite the government’s plans to scrap the default age for retirement from October next year.
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The group are part of 68 frontline community health staff, all aged over or approaching 65, who have been given six months’ notice by Leicestershire County and Rutland PCT after it changed its retirement policy in June. That was just weeks before the government launched its consultation proposing to stop employers from being able to force their employees to retire at 65 from October 2011.
The nurses involved work both full time and part time in community nursing, hospital nursing, school nursing and health visiting roles. At least two have asked to remain in post but have had their requests turned down by the PCT and are set to appeal with the backing of the Royal College of Nursing.
A PCT spokeswoman said the move was not a cost cutting exercise and the level of service provided in the community would be maintained. She added that the PCT would review and recruit to vacancies that “needed to be filled” and said the nursing staff involved were all band 5 or 6.
Matthew O’Callaghan, a councillor at Melton Borough Council, in which five of the affected community nurses work, said he was concerned that nurses with high levels of experience were being removed.
“Suddenly they have been told they are going to be cleared out and at the same time the government and the NHS are saying they want to have a more flexible approach to retirement,” he said.
In an anonymous statement one of the 11 nurses said the change in PCT policy “cannot be unrelated” to the government’s plans and was “an attempt to shed staff and save money, while they are still able”.