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Private sector staff win access to NHS pension


Nurses who work for private companies that provide care funded by the health service will be granted access to the NHS Pension Scheme under proposals announced today.

Ministers have accepted the recommendations of a review calling for widening access to the NHS pension to the private sector in an attempt to level the playing field between the NHS and independent sectors.

In October the government announced that any staff transferred out of the NHS to a private provider would be able to retain their membership of the pension.

However, the latest proposal goes a step further and allows independent providers to offer access to the NHS pension scheme for any of their staff “wholly or mainly” involved in delivering NHS funded care.

The new arrangements will be reviewed regularly, including after the first year and the fifth year to consider how the changes have impacted on the healthcare workforce.

Subject to the outcome of a consultation on the proposals, the new rules will be in place from 1 April 2014.

Health minister Dan Poulter said: “These proposals will save money which can be better spent on patient care, as well as benefitting employees who will continue to receive NHS pensions.”

He added that it would also support independent healthcare providers to “recruit and retain the highest quality professional staff”.

Dan Poulter

Dan Poulter

The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the proposals. RCN chief executive and general secretary Peter Carter described them as “good news for healthcare staff”.

“The RCN has argued for some time that it is right for all nursing staff providing NHS-funded care to be eligible for the NHS pension scheme, and these proposals are a positive step towards that,” he added.

“We look forward to responding to the consultation and hope that these proposals become a reality.”

Peter Carter

However, the move could provide a boost to independent providers as they seek to bid for NHS work as they would no longer have to compete with the taxpayer guaranteed NHS pension.

It means the NHS has lost one of its strongest competitive advantages over the independent sector, which faces significantly higher costs sourcing pensions on the open market.

Widening access to the NHS pension will increase the number of members paying into the scheme but will also mean the government acts as final guarantor for pensions held by privately employed individuals – albeit it those delivering taxpayer funded services.

Dr Poulter said: “Widening access to the NHS pension scheme could encourage more independent and voluntary sector providers to bid for public sector contracts.”

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Readers' comments (18)

  • Mixed thoughts on this: good for those staff who are TUPE'd to some tin-pot private company through no fault of their own. I was TUPE'd to a private company, but would've remained in my post if I could've continued to pay into my pension.

    Bad for the NHS as it has now lost its one and only USP: the pension is the only reason most staff put up with horrendous working conditions and stress levels. I think this also signals the end of the NHS as we know it and the start of a health service run by thousands of private companies offering different pay and conditions.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Dec-2013 5:28 pm

    I agree, but I think the greatest loser is the NHS and the ability to keep it away from private providers. The NHS in England is pretty much finished. If you live if any of the other UK countries, I would advise that you vote for increased devolution or in the case of Scotland, independence. You may have to be prepared to pay more through taxation to keep your NHS in public hands. But better that than handing it over to private companies for the benefit of shareholders not patients. All carried out under the auspices of an unelected government.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Dec-2013 5:57 pm

    I agree with everything you have written (I wrote the earlier post.)

    The RCN should not be allowed any involvement in this process whatsoever as when my colleagues and I went through the TUPE process, the RCN actually made our plight ten times worse.

    The RCN rep - or whatever this idiot was - went on local tv trumpeting about how he and the RCN alone had safeguarded all band 5 jobs - the reality was we all wanted to take our redundancy, so this tool totally scuttled our plans just so he could 'big-up' how good the RCN was!

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  • just another tory ploy so that private companies can move in as they now no longer have to compete on the pension side of the bid!!

    in a few years the nhs will be no longer you will be working for virgin or serco or some other greedy company

    your terms and condtions will be ok for about a year or so and then they will change them dramatically so they can make even more profit

    thank god im leaving this sinking ship!!

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  • Pretty dire, it appears that our NHS is on its last limb!

    I wonder how many of the well thinking committed nurses would choose to remain nursing on the wards with the lack of the USP of the NHS on the backdrop of the rapidly free marketisation of the NHS?

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  • Showing they can pull away what is good and share it around to further break up the NHS.
    In the opening ceremony of the olympics we were so proud to see the NHS as a major part of what it means to be British.
    The rest of the world is passing us by and is stunned at how we are treading on everything that made us proud in the first place.
    I came to England from another land and I feel sad for this country.

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  • 1.44pm

    Other than my salary, the NHS pension and my holiday entitlement are the ONLY reason I go into work and put up with the cr@p and hassle that I get every single minute of every shift I'm there!

    If a private company pays AfC, matches my holiday entitlement and allows me to continue to pay into my NHS pension and retire at 60 then I wouldn't think twice about moving to the private sector if I could find a 'cushier' job.

    I was going to write: I don't think the government realises what it has done, but I think it knows exactly what it's doing - it's offering up the NHS to the private sector like never before. Private companies will now be able to retain more staff on takeover of services; this really is the end of the NHS.

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  • I think it is a ploy by the government to fund pensions for the drove of NHS staff that are looking to get out - and who can blame them! Then, these poor private staff will eventually find themselves in the same dilemma as future NHS (if it still exists) staff, no pension or a one very reduced, but their money has already been taken. It will be blamed on todays nurses for being too greedy, by getting out before the going gets tough. It's a short term fix to get the present government out of blame and at this moment in time, making them the 'good guys'.

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  • Anonymous | 3-Dec-2013 5:28 pm - TUPE rights are just not worth the paper they're written on.

    Any private company will soon change your contract if it suits them to offer less advantageous T&Cs. You probably can't get a recognised union rep to negotiate these for you, so you'll have to accept poorer terms or lose your job. It still is a risk to work in the private sector if you want long term security, but this provides private health companies with a valuable financial cushion at our expense.

    This government has chosen to have us taxpayers subside their chums running private health care by offering to pay their staff pensions for them.

    The side effect is that now private companies can more easily undermine NHS services and win contracts from them because we're all paying some of their staff costs.

    Next time your service is privatised or your taxes go up, enjoy the fact that shareholders of private health care companies can afford that nice little place in the Bahamas!

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  • None of you have done anything to stop this. Stop moaning and get on with it or get off your miserable backsides and do something!!! FFS!

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