Health service unions are to enter into discussions with Department of Health officials on increasing public sector pension contributions, ministers have announced today.

Formal consultations on raising public sector pension contributions in 2012-13 will begin at the end of July, chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said today.

The government and the Trades Union Congress have agreed that, in addition to ongoing high level negotiations, separate talks will be held on each of the schemes in the public sector, including the NHS, local government, police, teachers and civil service.

A TUC spokeswoman said the NHS talks would be led by Unison, although non-TUC affiliated bodies including the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing will also be involved.

A statement published by the Treasury today said the discussions were necessary “to ensure a fuller understanding of the implications of reforms”.

The talks are expected to finish by the end of October, and the resulting changes to contributions are planned to be implemented from April 2012. Ministers want to cut £1.2bn from the cost of public service pensions in 2012-13, followed by a further £2.3bn in 2013-14, and £2.8bn in 2014-15.

The government has recognised that the local government pension scheme is funded - it has £140bn worth of assets and investments, making it similar to a private pension scheme - and therefore is in a “different position” to the other public service schemes, and alternative ways to deliver savings will be discussed. However no such exception has been made for NHS pensions.

Mr Alexander said: “The government and the TUC have held a series of constructive meetings to discuss public service pension reform and have now agreed that to further inform the discussions on Lord Hutton’s recommendations, there should be scheme-level discussions alongside the central process.

“I can also confirm today that to deliver the first year’s savings of £1.2bn… consultations for the unfunded public service pension schemes will commence by the end of this month.”