Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

New review to look at nurse retirement plans


Frontline NHS nurses could in future be allowed to retire earlier with trusts paying higher pension contributions to cover the cost, Nursing Times has learnt.

Older nurses might also be moved out of frontline roles, under options being looked at to counter concerns over the government’s controversial plans to extend the retirement age of NHS staff to 68.

A review group has been set up to investigate the potential for employers to allow some staff to take early retirement, with the cost covered by the increased pension contributions also set to be introduced by the unpopular reforms.

Early retirement would only be made available to staff identified as potentially suffering a “detriment” from being made to work to an older age, suggesting many nurses would be covered by the move.

Nursing Times has been told a review group will meet for the first time in September, as part of a year-long investigation of what the impact of making NHS staff work longer will be. It will include representatives from unions, the Department of Health and trust representative body NHS Employers.

From 2015 the retirement age for NHS staff will be linked to the state pension age, which is set to increase to 66 by 2020, 67 by 2036 and 68 by 2046.

The proposal has drawn widespread criticism from nurses who questioned whether people in their late 60s could cope with the physical nature of many frontline nursing roles.

The objectives set for the review group state that it will “explore the option” of employers paying early retirement costs for staff “identified as suffering a detriment for working longer with particular reference to staff in frontline and demanding roles”.

It will look at evidence from other countries and examine how NHS trusts could change their practices and behaviours to support an older workforce.

This could also include flexible careers to allow some staff to be moved away from frontline duties as they near retirement age.

Unison national officer for health Sara Gorton said: “What we need to do now to move things forward is to produce data to clearly identify where there are particular job characteristics or employer types that have a big or unusual impact on working age issues.”

She noted that the existing proposals for pension reform would allow early retirement if staff paid extra contributions themselves, which would also be matched by employers.

“There are draft proposals that the government could implement, and they contain a clause to allow early retirement where members of staff could pay extra contributions, which would be matched by employers,” she said.

Gerry O’Dwyer, senior employer relations advisor at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “We need to understand the impact of people working longer.

“Our clear position has been against the linking of the state pension age with the occupational pension age, as we don’t believe the nature of general nursing can sustain people working full-time at that age.”

A DH spokesman said discussions on the scope of the review were on-going and the group’s first meeting was expected in the autumn.

He said: “The review will look at evidence on the impact of working longer in terms of health and wellbeing and service delivery, good employment practice and development of new and longer career pathways as well as considering a more strategic and flexible approach to reward.”

He added: “This could include employer funded contribution rates to offset the cost of early retirement or flexibility for frontline staff to take on alternative roles to allow them to work to their pension age if they want.”

As well as working for longer, nurses will also have to contribute more for their pension under the government’s new scheme. Contribution rates are set to rise by an average of 3.2% over three years from April 2012. The final pension will be based on an NHS career average salary.

Those within 10 years of retirement in April 2012 will not see any change to their benefits.

Neither Unison nor the Royal College of Nursing have formally accepted or rejected the proposals, following inconclusive membership ballots.

The British Medical Association, which rejected the deal, held a national day of action on 21 June. It has delayed taking further industrial action, but has said it will continue to fight for a fairer deal for its members.


Readers' comments (30)

  • from my experience, it is far easier to change careers sooner rather than later.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Hmmmm
    "The objectives set for the review group state that it will “explore the option” of employers paying early retirement costs for staff “identified as suffering a detriment for working longer with particular reference to staff in frontline and demanding roles”.

    I wonder what the CCG's will make of this when they take over the commissioning of services fully next April. Do people think they will be happy to factor in the additional costs to NHS Providers? Or might it mean that it will push the bias even further to private providers who do not have to carry the financial burdens of AFC and NHS T & C's.
    Just a thought.............

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Due to the constant physical and mental demands of a busy medical ward I am taking early retirement aged 55 even though I have only worked for the NHS 20 years. I intend to get a job outside nursing as I feel my career choice has affected my health. I think very few could do this at 66-68.
    I am aware some will shout and scream saying they are more than capable and good luck to them but many are simply not fit enough. The area you work in also needs to be considered because at the moment older nurses are expected to think and be as physical as the younger ones. Experience is not always appreciated.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I am already trying to plan my retirement within the next year. I feel i am one of the lucky few who are in the special classes whom can retire at fifty five. Although i am looking forward to it, i have mixed emotions. I have been a nurse for thirty six years and for the majority of these years i can honestly say i have enjoyed my career. I have given high standards of holistic care and still, instill this into the students i mentor.The sad thing is that for all of this, i along with many nurses of today no longer feel we are valued or respected by our patients, managers and any other heirarcal official.Austerity measures are only scratching the suface at the moment what about the other percentages to come in the next 5yrs. Nursing was a true vocation a career for life,now its a business which you can be in one minute and out the next. Retire as early as you can before thing get a lot worse

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • All of you female nurses, have you noticed the thing about your pension being a career avarage one now? Sound for the fellas, but you ladies have the habit of taking years off at a time to bring up the next generation, how will this affect you?
    Also, the trusts will make up the shortfall? Taking more money out at the frontline, with the associated costs of bean counters, why not just leave well alone?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Imagine......a ward where ALL STAFF are approaching their mid sixties!!!

    I rest my case!!!

    There's a sit-com in there somewhere it's such a joke!!!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • we had a scooter on our very long ward with a basket on the front to carry meds. or the newspaper or whatever our patients needed. it was a quick way of responding to a bell at the further ends of the corridor as our office (where we rested) was roughly in the middle. one over 60 nurse tore several ligaments in her knee when the front spun around out of control so was off sick which put me off using it totally, preferring to walk faster.

    in the underground, over a mile long, we had bicycles to get more rapidly from one building to another.

    so what would be wrong with zimmer frames in the acute med/surg wards for the over 65s who are problems getting around and long pairs of tongs to pick up things from the floor and off high shelves.

    the manufacturers of mechanical aids could have a hayday making specially adapted equipment for elderly nurses.

    i really don't understand where there is a problem with this. we would just have to make sure there were a few young ones to do all the running in emergencies (and possibly the largest part of the work load as well). oh, and we would need luxury upholstered chaise-longue in our rest room so that we could take frequent rest breaks!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Oh yes! Cardiac arrests! I'll add that to my over 65's sit-com- we'll probably end up with 2 arrests- one staff member and one patient!

    and another thing-by the time we've managed to arrive where we're going we may well forget what we went there for!
    Not to mention forget to give the IV's etc- if we can see what we're doing that is!!-

    Of course some over 65's will cope very well but I'm damn sure I won't!!!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • 9.30 am

    i am witness to a story of a nurse collapsing on the floor unconscious to be rescued by an obese cardiac patient (district nurse) who leapt out of bed to her rescue ripping off all her leads and promptly collapsing on top of the first. The first nurse had been cuffed under the chin by a normally sweet 80 year old lady who had become cerebrally hypoxic.

    I have already posted the story elsewhere but would be more than happy to repeat it to you for your sit-com against a commission generous to retire on! of course a bit of poetic licence would have to be applied to the ages of the nurses!

    As for memory, I can't tell you how often I have rushed to shops for something only to stand in the middle of a large department store wondering what it was that I needed. I think i get distracted by all that beauty enhancing make up near the entrance.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • give more of the paperwork and desk jobs to less mobile elderly nurses?

    "A police force failed to investigate four in ten crimes last year because budget cuts have turned senior officers into “accountants” rather than crime fighters."

    wouldn't wash with me it you took me away from my hands on job in nursing to do accountancy no matter how senior - I am totally hopeless at figures!

    actually on second thoughts .... I am so bad I would probably inadvertently deviate the funds into patient care in error so maybe it wouldn't be such a bad job to push me into after all as far as patients and colleagues are concerned! I would also fiddle the books to increase pay as well as the number of hands on deck but I would need a course at uni first to train in canniness in not getting found out for any perceived misdemeanour!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Show 102050results per page

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.