Pensions legislation will entrench unfairness for NHS staff, BMA says

Unfair NHS pension reforms have moved a step closer with the publication of the Public Service Pensions Bill today, the BMA has warned.

Dr Mark Porter: pension legislation entrenches unfairness
Dr Mark Porter: pension legislation entrenches unfairness

The pensions reform legislation, published today, is the final stage in the government’s plan to save £65 billion through public sector pension reforms.

It will ensure that the government can press ahead with NHS pension scheme reforms by providing primary legislation for moves such as linking the normal pension age to the state pension age.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter said: ‘The government’s approach to pension reform has been unfair in many ways. This bill would entrench that unfairness, which particularly impacts on NHS staff.

‘Under the government’s plans, some healthcare workers will pay 66% of the cost of their pension benefits by 2014/15. By contrast, the highest earning civil servants will pay a maximum of 26% of theirs.

‘Demanding the same savings of all public sector schemes across the board is also unfair. The NHS scheme underwent major reform only four years ago, and continues to deliver a positive cashflow to the Treasury. The most senior NHS staff are being hit especially hard, taking on higher contribution levels that are hugely disproportionate to their earnings.

‘We are also concerned about plans to raise the normal pension age in the NHS. Work in the NHS is often physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, and some staff will not feel able to work effectively beyond the age of 65.

'We will be seeking to propose affordable ways in which the changes can be made fairer, both now and in the longer term.’

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, said: ‘This Bill is the final stage in delivering sustainable public service pensions. It will cut the cost to taxpayers by nearly half, while ensuring that public sector workers, rightly, continue to receive pensions amongst the very best available.

‘This is a good deal for taxpayers and a good deal for public service workers: a settlement for a generation.’

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