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Ex-NHS staff able to access NHS Pension Scheme, DH confirms

NHS staff transferred to private companies will still be allowed access to the NHS pensions scheme, the Department of Health has confirmed.

The DH says its proposed changes to the ‘fair deal’ scheme - in order not to discourage private companies competing to provide NHS services - are set to go ahead, with the Treasury to announce start dates ‘shortly’.

The changes to the ‘fair deal’ scheme come after private companies said they were being unfairly discriminated against by being compelled to offer a ‘broadly comparable’ pension scheme to staff who transfer from within the NHS.

The revised scheme will mean ex-NHS employees can still maintain membership within the NHS Pension Scheme.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘Following a formal consultation in 2011, last July the Chief Secretary to the Treasury committed to reform the “Fair Deal for staff Pensions” which safeguards the pension provision for employees who are compulsorily transferred out of the public sector.

‘Staff entitled to stay in the NHS Pension Scheme (NHSPS) will include people transferred out of the public sector to a new employer under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations 2006 (TUPE). Staff who were never employed by the NHS will not be entitled to access the public sector pension scheme.’

‘HM Treasury (HMT) are finalising the policy and start dates may vary across the public sector schemes. The formal start dates for the revised Fair Deal are yet to be announced but will be determined by HMT shortly.’

The NHS Confederation’s Partners Network had lobbied for the changes to be made and the BMA also supports it.

A spokesperson said: ‘We’ve never accepted the argument of private providers that the playing field is skewed against them. However, the right of NHS staff who are transferred to the private  to keep their pension rights under the Fair Deal arrangement was one of the more welcome aspects of the Government’s pension changes.’

But Dr David Wrigley, a GP in Lancashire and member of the GPC, said: ‘Given the coalition Government’s clear wish to have a market free for all in the NHS it doesn’t surprise me in the slightest to hear of this. This pension move is a blatant attempt to woo the large City corporates into bidding for NHS services.’

‘The profits they subsequently cream off are profits that should have been re-invested in patient care. Instead they will boost their share price and please the Boardroom Directors. Of course government Ministers, once their careers are over, will seek Directorships with these very same companies they have wooed - as history has already shown us. The “revolving door” is well and truly on the move.’

Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in Tower Hamlets in East London, argued that the old ‘fair deal’ scheme should continue or private providers would have an unfair advantage.

He said: ‘I think it is very important that private providers have the obligation to pay NHS pensions or they will have an unfair advantage to compete for services compared to providers within the NHS.’