More than half of NHS managers think they should pay more towards their pensions, an HSJ survey has revealed.

But in an online snap poll earlier this week of more than 2,000 respondents, nearly half said they were less likely to continue working in the health service as a result of the coalition government’s approach to NHS pay, pensions and jobs.

And 40 per cent of the 632 senior managers who responded said they would consider industrial action if the pension scheme was made less attractive.

The findings follow last week’s spending review, in which the government confirmed plans to shed 490,000 jobs and said public sector workers would pay more towards their pensions.

The review stated that “progressive changes to the level of employee contributions”, equivalent to a 3 per cent rise, will be phased in from April 2012.

It is not clear whether the government will impose a blanket 3 per cent increase across the whole public sector, or acknowledge many NHS employees already pay more towards their pensions than teachers, civil servants and local government workers.

Managers in Partnership chief executive Jon Restell said: “We’re prepared to talk about anything provided there are meaningful discussions.”

He added: “It’s not straight forward that there would be a straight across the board 3 per cent increase. Some [NHS] employees have already increased their contributions.”

Asked whether NHS employees should pay more towards their pensions, 45 per cent of respondents to HSJ’s survey agreed, increasing to 68 per cent of chief executives.

However, HSJ’s survey attracted a range of strong opinions. One senior manager said: “I see my pension as a loyalty reward, I have stayed with the NHS for 22 years when I could have moved across to the private sector and earned many times the salary over the years.”

In contrast, a nurse said: “We all have to contribute towards the greater good in these difficult times.”

NHS employees pay between five and 8.5 per cent of their annual salaries towards their pension, dependent on salary.

This compares with 6.4 per cent for teachers, 3.5 per cent for civil servants and 5.5 to 7.5 per cent for local government workers.

However, civil servants receive payments based on their career average salaries, which Lord John Hutton’s independent pensions commission has suggested should replace final salary pensions in the rest of the public sector.

More than two thirds (69 per cent) of respondents said they would be tempted to look for jobs outside the NHS if final salary pensions were scrapped, while 40 per cent who said they would be tempted if employee contributions were raised.

NHS management challenge stays much the same, rich or poor