NHS staff to strike over pension changes

NHS employees are to stage protests and industrial action on 10 May over changes to their pension schemes.

The majority of members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union and Unite, which include health visitors, pharmacists and paramedics, voted in favour of industrial action.

Concerns regarding the NHS pension scheme changes cover two main areas:

  • The linking of the NHS pension age to the rising state pension age, which is set to rise to 68.
  • Most NHS members will see their pension contributions increased from 6.5% to 9.3% over the next three years, which comes after a two-year pay freeze.

Rachael Maskell, national officer for health at Unite, said: “The government is picking the pockets of health workers by an average of £30 a month in order to pay for pension changes, which will see people having to work longer to get less.

“This attack comes against a backdrop of pay freezes and the threat of regional pay in the public sector. In the face of continued attacks, health workers will be stepping up their campaign and looking to join other public sector workers in taking action on 10 May.”

Simon Burns, health minister, said: “The NHS and those working in the health service should never take action that would harm patients. No concessions will be won through the threat or use of industrial action.

“We have had extensive discussions with trade unions and employers to ensure that the NHS staff who dedicate their lives to treating us continue to receive a pension which is amongst the best available, as well as being fair to the taxpayer.

“We realise there are concerns from some staff about working longer, this is why we have set up a group with all unions to look at how staff can be fully supported when working later in life.

“Pension reform is necessary because people are living longer, healthier lives. The proposed final agreement will protect all those within ten years of their pension age from any further change.

“Most low and middle earners working a full career to their new pension age will receive pension benefits at least as good, if not better, than they get now.”

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