Readers' panel: Should trusts offer nurses the chance to opt out of the NHS pension?
A Hertfordshire trust is offering band 5 and 6 nurse recruits the option of staying outside the NHS pension scheme. The trust says this could result in a 12.5% salary ‘rise’, but the plans have been criticised by unions, with RCN general secretary Janet Davies saying it is asking nurses to ‘neglect their futures’. Here, Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say.
A Hertfordshire trust is offering band 5 and 6 nurse recruits the option of staying outside the NHS pension scheme. The trust says this could result in a 12.5% salary ‘rise’ but the plans have been criticised by unions, with RCN general secretary Janet Davies saying it is asking nurses to ‘neglect their futures’. Nursing Standard readers panellists have their say.
Beverley Ramdeen is a senior lecturer in adult nursing at the University of Hertfordshire
'No, they should not. The NHS pension scheme is voluntary, so there is no need to use this as an incentive to encourage nurses to take up substantive roles instead of working for agencies.
'Those choosing to opt out could see a rise of up to 12.5% in their salary, but without independent financial advice, there is a risk these nurses could face financial hardship on retirement.
'Any nurse considering this needs to weigh up the pros and cons carefully before making a decision, especially as the retirement age continues to increase.'
Mike Wallis is a nursing student at the University of York
'The RCN says opting out of the NHS pension scheme is asking people to neglect their futures, trading short-term gain for long-term financial problems. But this assumes that those opting out won’t then seek financial advice and pension investment elsewhere.
'Whether or not to opt out of the NHS pension scheme is an individual choice. If given all the facts – positive and negative – surely people can make an informed choice.
'After all, don’t nurses advocate the making of informed decisions every day?'
Edwin Chamanga is tissue viability, lymphoedema, IV therapy and continence service lead, Hounslow and Richmond Community Healthcare, London
'Of course, as argued by the unions, nurses have to consider their pensions. But before they can even think about retirement, they have to pay the bills today.
'This could be seen as a cynical move by the trust, as low wages mean some nurses may feel they have no choice but to opt for avenues that pay more.
'Unions need to campaign harder for better pay for nurses now; there is no point in having a better retirement if you are struggling today.'
Jane Scullion is a respiratory nurse consultant at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester
'Opting out of the NHS pension scheme may seem like a good idea in the short term as nurses will have more money in their pockets, but they will still need a pension to protect their futures.
'The NHS scheme is currently one of the best on the market, so I would see opting out as a risky move.
'Savings today do not easily equate to a good pension in the future. So do you want cut price jam today or real jam in the future? I would say no, trusts should not be offering this to staff.'
Readers' panel members give their views in a personal capacity and do not represent their organisations