The government has failed to clarify whether nurses that set up new “social enterprise” schemes will able to keep their NHS pension.
Ministers last week announced a fresh drive to encourage nurses and other clinical staff to take over the services they provide and form independent not-for-profit organisations that contract with the NHS.
However, the government announcement gave no detail on whether nurses transferring to such schemes – either at their inception or after they were established – would be able to retain their NHS pensions.
This issue proved a major obstacle to the success of the previous government’s “right to request” social enterprise scheme for community services, which had little uptake, and has potentially become more complex given the recent review of public sector pensions by Lord Hutton (news, page 3, 13 March).
A DH spokesman told Nursing Times the government “will be clarifying arrangements regarding the NHS pension in due course”.
The coalition’s new social enterprise initiative, called “right to provide”, will apply to parts of the NHS beyond community services.
Queen’s Nursing Institute director Rosemary Cook said it was good that nurses who wanted to become more involved in running services were able to. But she said: “Professionals are very clear that this is their livelihood – they’re concerned about job security and pensions.
“In community services, nurses have found they don’t have the basic business or finance skills they need to set up and run a social enterprise,” she added.
The most well known existing example of a social enterprise scheme is Central Surrey Health, which was created by community nurses in 2006.
Have you signed our petition to ensure nurses have a seat on consortia boards? Follow @Aseatontheboard on twitter follow for all the latest campaign news!