- 18 October 2022
- 3 min read
Do Recent NHS Pension Changes Make It Likely More Nurses Will Leave The NHS?Subscribe To Advice
The nursing union Unison has reported that Nurses are witnessing a reduction in their monthly salary as a result of increased pension scheme contributions and are having to choose between ‘less money now or a poorer retirement’.
Higher pension contributions could be the ‘final straw’ for NHS Nurses as the majority will see a drop in their monthly salary from this month, the union cautioned (see our NHS Pay Calculator to see your new pension breakdown).
They warned that Nurses will face a choice between having less money either in the present, or in retirement. Some may opt out of the scheme altogether to alleviate a rapidly rising cost of living.
Do you think there is a real likelihood of more Nurses leaving the NHS or the profession entirely, in order to take jobs with similar or better pay?
Although the changes to pensions were intended to benefit part-time workers and top earners in England and Wales, most full-time staff will see their pension contributions increase, with a resultant reduction in take home pay.
Unison head of health Sara Gorton stated that the government had wilfully disregarded advice that pay awards needed to be high enough to absorb any pension scheme changes.
‘Losing out in this way could well be the final straw for many health employees at the end of their tether’ she explained.
Do you agree with her? Should the recent pay award have taken into the account the imminent changes to pension contributions, thus ensuring Nurses’ take-home pay didn’t fall?
RCN national officer team leader Chris Musgrave said the changes were another ‘unexpected financial hit’ for Nurses.
‘Many members are also concerned they are being forced to choose between dignity in retirement and keeping their head above water today’ he cautioned.
The pension changes, which were due to begin in April, had been deferred by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) both over concerns about the rising cost of living and to better align with the NHS Pay Review announcement.
The new system, which has been in place since October 1st this year, condenses the number of contribution tiers in the pension scheme. The change is intended to avoid members of staff being moved up a pension tier if they received a small salary increase, preventing a subsequent reduction in their monthly salary.
A spokesperson for DHSC said the changes ‘will reduce the possibility of a small number of members having their take-home pay reduced as a result of crossing into a higher contribution tier’ and described the pension scheme as ‘one of the best available’.
Do you think that pension arrangements and pay awards should be coordinated within the Agenda for Change framework, to ensure that any increases to overall pay are not swiftly negated by higher pension contributions?
Earlier this year, most NHS workers received a £1,400 pay rise. However, such a rise did not result in higher net pay for a sizeable proportion of Nurses, and an increase in pension contributions from October will only exacerbate this situation.
One Nurse ended up owing over £400 in pension arrears because of the pay rise. Other Nurses found their total pay had gone up by less than £1 as a result of the increase in deductions, according to the website NursingNotes.
With growing pressure on individual budgets due to the increased cost of living and possible forthcoming recession, is it short-sighted of the government not to ensure a pay settlement that encourages Nurses to stay within the NHS, especially with a perpetual staffing shortage and likely winter crisis?
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