Higher earners in the NHS will be asked to contribute up to 60% more towards their pensions, sparking fears they may withdraw from the scheme and deplete its funds.
Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said last week the government was to start talks with health unions on how the average 3.2 percentage point rise in public sector pensions contributions could be distributed.
He said staff should pay no more than an extra six percentage points towards their pensions by 2014-15 and that the burden would be loaded onto higher earners.
Better paid NHS staff, on salaries of £110,274 or more, could end up paying 14.5% of their wages on pensions. Those on less than £15,000 would see no increase and those earning £15,000-£21,000 would pay up to 1.5% more.
Royal College of Nursing senior employment relations adviser Gerry O’Dwyer said: “People on higher salaries might decide they have better ways of saving their money. That will increase the pressure on those remaining and make it potentially more difficult to pay out pensions.”
Unions are due to meet with NHS Employers and the Department of Health next week.