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Private sector nurses given access to NHS pension


Nurses who are compulsorily transferred out of the NHS to a private sector company delivering NHS services will be able to remain members of the NHS pension scheme, the Treasury has said.

With immediate effect, any worker will remain a member of the NHS Pension Scheme if they are transferred out of the health service to a private provider under transfer of undertakings, protection of employment (TUPE) regulations.

The move is likely to particularly affect community nurses, many of whom work for organisatons which have three to five year contracts and are expected to find their services put out to competitive tender over the next few years.

In addition nurses who have alrady transferred out of the NHS will have the right to rejoin the scheme when the organisation they are working for has its contract retendered.

Barrie Brown, national health officer for Unite, said: “Quite clearly we are going to see far more providers and people will be in the NHS one year and with a different provider the next. Five years after that they could be back with the NHS again.

“As long as we are facing that situation, widening access to the pension scheme is important for our members.”

The changes appeared in new Treasury guidance on the Fair Deal pensions policy, which organisations providing NHS services must follow.

They reflect the government’s aim to widen access to the pension scheme, a move which will make it easier for private companies to compete with the NHS for contracts.

This is because under previous pension rules a private provider bidding for NHS contracts was required to offer a “broadly comparable” pension to that offered to NHS staff.

But matching the effects of a taxpayer subsidy and overall government guarantee is expensive. The Hutton report on public sector pensions estimated it cost private providers the equivalent of a 40% contribution rate, when their NHS counterparts contributed just 14%.

Under the new rules the government will effectively guarantee the pensions of privately employed staff delivering NHS funded work, as it already does existing NHS employees. The plans will also boost the stability of the NHS pension scheme as there will be more individuals paying into it.

The Treasury said in a statement: “The new approach will ensure staff compulsorily transferred out of the public sector will continue to have access to good quality pensions.

“The new Fair Deal policy will achieve better taxpayer value for money by removing the requirement for contractors to provide costly private sector pensions. Lifting this requirement should also generate more bids for the provision of public service contracts which will drive efficiencies and innovations.”

The Treasury and Department of Health are still deciding whether to grant access to the NHS pension for any private sector employer whose staff deliver NHS funded clinical services – whether they have previously worked in the NHS or not.

A final decision is expected from ministers “within months”, according to a Treasury source.


Readers' comments (6)

  • michael stone

    This is good for the staff concerned, but could also be seen as promoting 'the privatisation of the NHS agenda' which many of us are not keen on.

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  • More spin from NT trying to sell a sensational headline, or am I the only one that thought this was about rank and file private company employees and owners taking advantage of one of the few perks of our job?

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  • MeThinks

    michael stone | 16-Oct-2013 9:44 am


    Anonymous | 16-Oct-2013 10:53 am

    Also a good question.

    This is complicated.

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  • To the above posters: I think these proposals have been drawn up due to private providers struggling to retain ex-NHS staff and the government is worried that they won't bid for contracts.

    The reality is, you and I have no idea what the NHS will look like in ten-years time, but I imagine there will be more private providers involved than there are now. Five-years down the line your hospital, clinic or service may be up for tender - you may be thankful for such proposals.

    I was TUPE'd from the NHS to a private company over two years ago and while I cautiously welcome these proposals, it's too little, too late for my now ex-colleagues and I.

    Within a year of the take-over, more than 75% of staff had left (me included) most to return to the NHS, but some took jobs in care homes or anything they could find, due to the dangerous working conditions imposed by the private company's cost-cuttings enforced by its cheerleading stooges.

    The reality is that it would've been cheaper for the service to have remained within the NHS as the private company has had to go back to the Commissioners several times for extra money; at least the NHS would've provided the service it was being paid for, whereas the private company's main concern was profit and shareholders.

    It is my understanding that most of the service - one site withstanding - will return to the NHS due to the very poor performance of the private provider. I just hope the NHS remove the turn-coat management team that did the private providers dirty-work and made life so unpleasant for their remaining staff.

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  • This may help the new private providers to retain former NHS staff but what about new employees? I have considered jobs in the community but have been put off applying by the loss of my NHS pension.

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  • michael stone

    Anonymous | 16-Oct-2013 1:14 pm

    You gave a very clear explanation, of why people like me are not keen on the 'privatisation agenda' for the NHS.

    It is indeed happening, but that doesn't mean that I have to like it. I fully approve of a 'cleverer' NHS - but this privatisation could actually involve 'a race to the bottom' instead of 'cleverer working/behaviour'.

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