By Ian Quinn
Exclusive: The Department of Health has confirmed it has discussed ‘a range of solutions' with the BMA about changing the NHS Pension Scheme, as large numbers of GPs signed Pulse's petition against raising the retirement age to 65.
A DH spokesperson said ‘initial talks' were held last week involving NHS Employers and union leaders on changes to the NHS Pension Scheme, after Pulse reported the Government had begun negotiations over proposals including plans to increase the profession's retirement age and ramp up contributions.
The January meeting was of the technical advisory group of the NHS Pension Scheme Governance Group. The governance group includes Dr Andrew Dearden, chair of the BMA pensions committee, Peter Robinson from NHS Pensions and Jeremy Orr from NHS Employers.
More than 500 GPs have signed up to Pulse's petition against the proposed increase in the retirement age in just the first three days since its launch, as we aim to pile on the pressure on the DH and the Treasury in the run-up to the next meeting, in early February. Click on the link at the bottom of this article to add your name.
The DH said: ‘We have had meetings with the BMA and other trade union representatives on the spending review and interim Hutton report. We cannot comment on the subject of negotiations.'
It insisted it was not demanding all existing members of the NHS Pension Scheme raise their retirement age from 60 to 65, but said that ‘a number of different changes are currently happening to pensions in the NHS that all members should be aware of'.
‘First there is the ongoing NHS Pension Scheme Choice exercise, second the Comprehensive Spending Review announced £2.8bn would be raised from public-service pension scheme members, and finally the review by Lord Hutton, due to publish its findings in March 2011.
‘The DH is continuing to work in partnership with both trades unions and NHS employers on all these pension aspects through our established procedures. A whole range of solutions are being looked at.'
Dr Dennis Burton, a GP in Daventry, was one of the many GPs to add his name to our petition. He said: ‘The white paper, attacking our pensions and revalidation will lead to the core of experience in the profession taking early retirement and heading for the hills.'
Dr John Pike, a GP in Bristol, said: ‘This is certain to lead to a retirement bombshell and worsening morale. When it all goes wrong, the Government will have only itself to blame.'The Department of Health said it had discussed 'range of solutions' with BMA on GP pensions Sign our petition
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