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Older GPs could be given ‘back-office’ roles under DH plans to implement NHS pension reforms

Exclusive Older GPs could be shunted into ‘back-office' roles under plans tabled by the Government to reduce the impact of their pensions reforms that will see some working until 68 years old.

The Department of Health has tabled the plans as part of the discussions with the Working Longer Review forum that is negotiating on behalf of the BMA and other trade unions about how to implement the Government's reforms to public sector pension schemes.

Pulse revealed earlier this week that the Treasury had formally announced plans to force through its reforms to GPs' pensions, despite the BMA's day of industrial action last month.

But negotiations are due to begin in September about how to implement the reforms and Pulse understands the Government has suggested that people in certain patient facing roles could be redeployed to back office roles if they feel unable to continue in their current roles.

But unions involved in the talks have said the plans are unworkable and have called on the Government to bring in employer-funded early retirement for NHS workers in certain roles instead.

Fiona Farmer, Unite's national officer for health, said: ‘This is something we will continue to negotiate on but it is difficult to see how significant chunks of the NHS workforce can be redeployed.'

‘There are capability and disability issues at the moment and to extend the age and have an even larger cohort to be redeployed – I don't think the system has the capacity. The only way forward would be an employer-funded early retirement.'

Ms Farmer added that she was not confident that the Government would reduce the pensions contribution rate for NHS workers in 2013/14, 2014/15 and post 2015, which is the other main issue still for negotiation.

She said: ‘Given their past track record, I don't think this will still be up for negotiation unless we take further consolidated action from all the unions. But a number of the unions have taken the position that they want to move on.'

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Stanmore, north London, said the suggestion was unlikely to be viable, but added: ‘We have to recognise that the job of being a GP is a highly complex and requires a range of professional and clinical skills.'

‘Clearly these factors need to be considered as part of any suggestion of increasing the working age.'