NHS directors add to pension scheme exodus

Nine senior directors opted out of the NHS pension scheme in the last financial year (2017-18), adding to the exodus of workers leaving the scheme.

The health service’s annual accounts showed that six NHS England board members left the scheme along with three senior directors at NHS Improvement.

The opt outs could be a concern for NHS workers, as NHS Employers had previously warned that high earners leaving the pension scheme could destabilise it.

According to the annual accounts, the six board members that have stopped contributing to the scheme were the national director of operations and information Matthew Swindells, national director for transformation Emily Lawson, national medical director Stephen Powis, the former chief nursing officer Jane Cummings, medical director Sir Bruce Keogh and chief financial officer Paul Baumann.

The three executive directors that have opted out of the scheme were regional director for the south east Anne Eden, outgoing executive director of regulation and deputy chief executive Stephen Hay, and outgoing medical director Kathy McLean.

The departures come after it was revealed that nearly a quarter of a million NHS workers left the pension scheme over the past three years, significantly more than in other public service schemes.

Commenting at the time, Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb said: “The NHS as an employer needs to take urgent action to tackle this epidemic of pension opt-outs.

“All public sector workers have faced a squeeze on their take-home pay in recent years, but it is in the NHS where this has translated into shockingly high numbers of people leaving the pension scheme.”

NHS England and NHS Improvement both declined to comment when they were approached by the Health Service Journal.

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