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Older nurses are being forced to retire to save NHS money

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VOL: 102, ISSUE: 30, PAGE NO: 2

Richard Staines

Jobs watch 15 July 2006

Jobs watch 15 July 2006

Older nurses are being forced to retire from their NHS jobs as part of cost-saving plans at some cash-strapped trusts, it emerged last week.

The practice, which is legal, amounted to ‘age discrimination’, nurse unions and charities said last week but comes just three months before new UK laws aimed at making it more difficult to sack people aged over 65 come into force.

Nurses who have passed retirement age have already been targeted by managers at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust as part of plans to cut 30 nursing posts in a bid to help reduce its £15.7m deficit.

A statement from the trust said older staff were being targeted for retirement to reduce the need for redundancies. ‘We are ending some permanent contracts for staff aged over 65 who have reached or exceeded normal retirement age,’ it said.

Age Concern also contacted NT last week to say that they had received numerous telephone calls from older nurses telling them that they were being forced to retire.

One nurse, who did not wish to be named, told the charity that despite needing to continue working in order to pay a mortgage and having a glowing review from her manager stating that she was wanted at work, she was being forced to retire because of her trust’s policy.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: ‘Age Concern is afraid the NHS is forcing nurses out simply because of age discrimination. Experienced nurses can make a real difference to a nursing team - not only can they be highly trained and skilled professionals, they can also act as valuable role models and mentors of younger nurses.’

Mike Travis, RCN council member, called the move ‘ludicrous’. ‘We are taking away a whole tier of nurse leadership and experience, which will not be replaced. But I have to say I am not surprised in these times of desperation.’

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesperson said: ‘Any organisation trying to get rid of people before October would be going against the spirit of the legislation, which is trying to get a dialogue going.’

NT and Age Concern would like to speak to nurses who are forced to retire. Please email joanna.hartley@emap.com or sam.heath@ace.org.uk.

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