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2010 Health Care Service Group Conference
11 December 2009

Conference notes the changes to the NHS pension scheme and ill Health Retirement arrangements that have been in place since April 2008. Conference also notes there have been no extra groups of special classes for many years in the scheme, the last being Mental Health Officer status even though front line ambulance staff have campaigned over many years to achieve this recognition based on the disproportionately high number of ill health retirements amongst front line 999 crews.

Whilst conference does not wish to reopen the Pension and Ill Health retirement Review it does feel there is further scope for improvement in this area to broaden options available for staff. In the event that new special class categories are not deemed viable consideration should be given to other initiatives such as an early retirement plan programme funded by voluntary increased contributions in addition to the current added years facility.

Conference has previously recognised the limited capacity for redeployment of front line and non operational staff in Ambulance services compared to the wider NHS and notes that an NHS wide redeployment register is now part of UNISON policy and has been raised through the NHS Staff Council as part of its future work plan.

However conference notes that some urgency is required in this area as Ambulance employers in particular are aware that the bill for ill health retirement will increase sharply in 2016 and therefore measures that might alleviate this need to be in place within the next 5 years.

Conference therefore calls on the SGE to explore further initiatives to expand the early retirement options available to NHS staff and especially with due regard to ambulance and other front line NHS workers employed in occupations that make them particularly vulnerable in this area.