UK - The National Health Service looks set to bring in a new final salary scheme in 2005 to bring workers' benefits in line with changing legislation.
The proposals for the new scheme will be unveiled next summer, following a review by the NHS Confederation.
But project manager Mike Evershed said the scheme would only be launched after full consultation with unions, health departments and employer representatives.
He added: “In October, we will get a steering group together including those stakeholders, as well as a wider reference group which will look at the options we are serious about from the options paper we are putting together now.”
Evershed said three factors had prompted the NHS into holding a review of its pensions arrangements:
- A need to modernise pension provision to include allowances such as survivor benefits for same sex partners.
- Inland Revenue proposals allowing people to claim benefits but continue employment.
- The government’s policy of moving the retirement age from 60 to 65.
Evershed said analysis found these “modernisations” would be easier to implement as part of a new scheme, rather than adding them on to the existing scheme and further complicating the rules.
He added: “We’ve given a number of assurances to scheme members: the new scheme will be defined benefit; existing scheme members will be given the right to transfer to the new scheme; existing members’ accrued rights will be fully protected; and any changes to future service are unlikely to affect anyone within 10 years of retirement.”
The NHS review will be conducted in five stages:
- Preparation until October 2003.
- Detailed analysis of options from October 2003 to March 2004.
- Agreement of proposals from April 2004 to September 2004.
- Consultation from October 2004 to March 2005.
- Preparation for implementation from March 2005 onwards.
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The survey, conducted by a medical journal, showed many doctors plan to set up their own private practice or even change career, following the early retirement.
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