Not for nothing was public service pensions commission chair Lord Hutton placed at number 28 in HSJ’s list of the people with the most influence on the NHS last year.
His profile read: “Once it was pay that pushed unions towards industrial action, it is now pensions and job security”. Prescient words in light of the teachers’ walk-out this Thursday.
In this week’s HSJ, Jon Restell tackles the issue head on, giving six reasons to “defend” the health service pension.
For the NHS leadership community, a pension is an important part of a package which helps make the decision to commit to a career in the service or, in the case of doctors, to reduce the opportunity to pursue lucrative clinical work.
One of the less talked-about problems with the current NHS reforms is that too little attention has been paid to the incentives needed to ensure a critical mass of leadership talent able to deliver change.
Undermine the NHS pension and the government will be faced with the challenge of finding an alternative incentive attractive enough to retain the best. With downward pressure on senior pay levels, ministers will find one hand tied behind their back.
People in NHS leadership positions – whether managerial or clinical – are unlikely to go strike, but they have just as effective ways of withdrawing their labour. The government should beware of false economies.