The ageing workforce - a resource for staff and their representatives

globe and paper figures
Please note: The NHS Staff Council has agreed the NHS Working Longer Group has fulfilled its purpose and has therefore formally ended the role of the group. The resources produced by the group will remain available for organisations to use. The NHS Staff Council and its sub groups will take forward any future work.

This resource has been developed for NHS staff and their representatives to provide information about the changes to the pension scheme retirement age; and on the anxieties, challenges and opportunities that working to a raised retirement age might present. It also provides signposts to further information and resources. It has been published at the same time as a resource for managers explaining their part in meeting the challenge of an ageing workforce. 

Throughout this resource we will use the term 'older worker(s)' to denote staff aged 50 or over. We will also refer to 'working longer' as meaning to work to a higher age before full pension benefits are payable.

Many NHS staff report fears and concerns about their ability to work later in life, and the impact this might have on their role and retirement. Equally a number choose to work past their normal retirement age. One thing is true for all: it is never too early to start thinking about planning for retirement. 

We believe that staff should place as much importance about planning the end of their working life and the run up to that point, as they do on the earlier stages of their careers. We hope that this resource will help you think about the later stages of your working life, so that you can make informed decisions and plan for the future you want.

The Working Longer Group (WLG) has also produced an age awareness toolkit for NHS organisations. If you are a trade union (TU) representative, you may want to check that your organisation has taken advantage of this resource.


The introduction of the 2015 NHS Pension Scheme saw the normal pension age (the age at which you can receive your full pension benefits) set equal to state pension age (SPA). This means that most staff currently working in the NHS will only be able to access their full NHS pension benefits after the age of 65. There is no doubt that the impact of caring for an ageing society with an ageing workforce is one of the greatest and perhaps least understood challenges facing both employers and staff in the NHS.

The WLG was established to consider the possible impact of working longer (i.e. to a raised retirement age) in the NHS as a result of this change. Since its establishment, the group has addressed a number of key areas of concern that were initially identified in its preliminary report, to support NHS organisations address the challenges that managing an ageing workforce might bring. These include employer awareness; health, safety and wellbeing; and pensions information and expertise.

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