NHS Working Longer Group

The NHS Working Longer Group is a tripartite partnership group between national recognised NHS trade unions, NHS employers and health department representatives, established to review the implications of the NHS workforce working to a later, raised retirement age. 

  • Library – WLG has brought together library of research, publicaitons and websites to help employers and employees further understand the issue
  • Tools and resources – e.g. factsheets, quick guides for flexible working, infographics about the ageing population.
  • Audit of existing research into the impact of working beyond the age of 60

Logo for NHS working longer group


Why was the WLG established?

The NHS Pension Scheme proposed Final Agreement included the provision for the new 2015 NHS Pension Scheme, for pension accruals post-2015, to set normal pension age equal to State Pension Age. For the NHS workforce of 1.4 million, this means that 70 per cent of 2015 NHS Pension Scheme members will have a normal pension age of between 65 and 68.

As a result, it was agreed as part of the proposed Final Agreement to set up a tripartite review to address the impact of working longer in the NHS, with particular reference to staff in frontline and physically demanding roles including emergency services.

What has the WLG achieved so far?

  • Bath University was commissiones to carry out an audit of existing research into the impact of working beyond age 60. The audit was published in June 2013.
  • A national call for evidence followed in summer 2013 to obtain NHS specific evidence about the impact of a raised retirement age. A summary report of findings was produced by researchers at Newcastle University.
  • The findings from both the call for evidence and the audit of existing research were used to inform the preliminary findings and recommendations report. The report was submitted to health departments on 3 March 2014.
  • The report made 11 recommendations which concentrated on four main themes:
    • The data challenge.
    • Pension options, retirement decision making and their impact on working longer.
    • The importance of appropriate working arrangements and the work environment.
    • Good practice occupational health, safety and wellbeing.
  • Also supported are a  number of longitudinal research studies spanning up to five years looking at the impact of working longer. These were commissioned by the Extending Working Lives in the NHS: Opportunities, Challenges and Prospects project that has received funding from the Medical Research Council.



In October 2014, the group were commissioned to deliver a body of work based on the preliminary findings and recommendations report.

A range of visits are being undertaken to NHS organisations to gather intelligence on how an ageing workforce and the issues of working longer affects their organisation. The research will focus on data, learning and development, health and wellbeing, pensions and pension information, equality and diversity and partnership working with trade union colleagues.

Tools and resources

Continuing the work of the recommendations, the group has produced a range of products and factsheets to assist employers and employees, which are accessible on their tools and resources web page.

The group will be producing further products including:

  • An age awareness toolkit – helping employers to create organisational awareness of the issues of an ageing workforce.
  • A manager’s guide for development conversations – including practical guidance for employers on instigating and embedding conversations with staff about their future plans.
  • An NHS Pension Scheme training package for HR teams – enabling HR teams to answer staff queries.
  • Early retirement reduction buy out (ERRBO) guidance to help employers implement the NHS Pension Scheme ERRBO flexibility within their organisation.
  • A stakeholder engagement event – bringing together our external stakeholders.


Further reading

The group has brought together a library of research, publications and websites to help employers and employees further understand the implications of working to a raised retirement age.

Learn more about the NHS working longer group >>