NHS pensions already agreed
JEFF Salway suggests that doctors should understand that life expectancy is rising (Money, 3 June). It is because we recognise the impact of living longer that we agreed to major changes to the pension scheme only four years ago so NHS staff would pay more, work longer and pay any additional costs.
The current scheme includes a higher than normal pension age for new entrants, large increases in contributions – particularly for doctors – and a cost-capping mechanism that means NHS staff, not taxpayers, will pick up for the bill for future cost increases related to increased longevity. It is not in deficit; in fact it currently delivers a positive cashflow to the public purse of £2 billion a year.
The scheme remains affordable, even in the current financial climate. Only last year, the Public Accounts Committee found that the 2008 reforms are bringing substantial savings to taxpayers, with the scheme set to be sustainable well into the future. Yet the government wants to ignore those facts and tear up the 2008 agreement.
By 2014, under the proposed scheme, some doctors will be paying twice as much for the same pensions as civil servants on the same pay. This is why we feel we have been “unfairly targeted”. The BMA has reluctantly taken the decision to take industrial action because the government refuses to have meaningful discussions with us and has turned its back on a deal over pensions that was agreed only four years ago.
By not entering into meaningful negotiations, the government has forced us into this position. But it is not too late to return to talks and avert industrial action, and we urge the government to do this.
Dr Lewis Morrison, Chairman, BMA’s Scottish Consultants Committee
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