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    What Should Be The Retirement Age For Paramedics?

    Did you know the retirement age for paramedics still remains at 65 years old, whilst every other emergency service are able to retire at 60?

    What Should Be The Retirement Age For Paramedics?


    Is this really justified or right? Is their profession less stressful or less demanding as other emergency services which enables paramedics to be able to continue working for another five years?


    A five-year study was carried out on employees at The Eastern Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland. The study was conducted on 181 men and 353 women who were assessed between 1988-92 and were found eligible to apply for an early retirement on medical grounds.


    When causes of retirement were looked at it was found that musculoskeletal, circulatory and mental disorders were most common in all groups, overall making up three-quarters of retirements.


    “There is absolutely no question whatsoever about the comparability of roles – emergency ambulance clinicians are exposed to high degrees of physical and psychological stress and equal, or greater, danger on a frequent basis.  In comparison with the general public and more interestingly with other groups of health professionals it is well known that ambulance clinicians simply do not make retirement age and if they do, on average, they often do not enjoy a long retirement.”

    – Professor Andy Newton, Chair of the College of Paramedics

    In ‘The Handbook Of Stress In Occupations’ the amount of stress associated in a profession is rated by several measures, including physical and mental health problems, burnout and job dissatisfaction.


    Compared to the other 26 occupations included in the handbook, paramedics were listed to have the most physical symptoms, the second occupation to be most dissatisfied in their profession and fourth worst in psychological well-being. (Johnson et al. 2005)


    Not only that but the UK National Service annual sickness absence rates are highest in ambulance workers and they have the highest rates of early retirement for medical reasons compared to a range of other occupations.


    Is it still sounding right that paramedics retirement age should be 5 years longer than other emergency service workers? The research shows it can’t be because their profession is less stressful…

    What about less demanding?

    Being a paramedic goes hand in hand with physical exertion and therefore exposing ambulance workers to high risks of musculoskeletal injuries, particularly from manually moving and handling patients.


    MSDs account for 41% of all work related ill-health in 2015/16

    -Health and Safety Executive, 2016


    For more information of the dire effect musculoskeletal injuries has on paramedics, please read ‘The Hidden Cost Of Manual Handling Injuries’ or ‘The Devastating Effects Of Long Term Manual Handling Injuries’.


    “Unfortunately, paramedics have the held record for the worst early ill-health retirement rates in the NHS, due largely to musculoskeletal problems, heart disease and cancers.”

    -College of Paramedics, 2011

    It is argued that paramedics aren’t physically often able to work until the state pension age due to musculoskeletal and repetitive strain injuries due to years of manually lifting and moving patients.


    If a paramedic wishes to retire at the same time as their colleagues in other emergency service professions this would result in a 26 percent financial penalty.


    “I am a paramedic and feel the retirement age is unrealistic and dangerous. We will be able to retire early but with a great cost to our pension now 5% reduction per year, if I retire at 55 I will lose 60% of my pension that’s a huge amount of income that costs me a great deal of money to pay in each month now! Who will get my pension pot when I cannot cope with my job in old age. It’s simply cruel.”

    -Tonya W 

    Are you a paramedic? We’d like to hear your thoughts on whether you think it is right for your retirement age to be five years longer than other emergency service workers.

    Please leave your thoughts and comments below.


    • Share
    1. Rosmary KENNEDY says:

      Just wait and see

    2. Kyley says:

      I am a working paramedic and I cannot seem to wrap my head around the fact that we are not considered to retire at the same age as police and fire.
      We are all an emergency service with huge physical and mental demands. How we don’t deserve the same treatment and retirement plan baffles me. Only being just a few short years in this career I can fully understand and relate to the stresses of the job and the toll it takes on an individual. We joined this career to help people and do the best we can and unfortunatley that sometimes breaks us and we are given no recgonition for that.

    3. Ian says:

      I’m a NQP, I’m only 23. But thought of working that long scares me. That would be 42 years + my 3 years as a student. 45 years.
      On top of that I will probably have to work in to my 70s to receive my state pension, just to afford to live.
      A retirement age of 65 is damn right dangerous in the profession.

    4. Dan says:

      I currently work as a paramedic on the frontline my job is hard very demanding physically exhausting and very busy.The current demand is astronomical witb trusts expe round ever growing on it’s staff with no extra support nor an adequate break while on duty we always over run duty by 15 mins to 4 hours with a 45 min break time allocated.The stress and pressure is driving people away and the trusts do NOT CARE. I think the profession is under valued and extremely over worked.Also trusts hold jobs for hours and we take the brunt of the disatifaction from patients and relatives.The ethical moral and humain aspects of this profession are diabolical.The retirement age should be lower how are we expected to carry patients down stairs life objects the sheer physical demand at 65 it is outrageous. Also trusts holding jobs for hours then we are expected to risk our own health wellbeing by attending these jobs on blue lights and sirens my theology is that the call had been assessed as lower category of call by the trust so it is not an emergency. The coding of calls is also yo be desired still where akot of catagoru 3 and 4 calls are actually the most serious in the end because patients have been made to wait for 4 hours is some case.I think the mental burden on staff is also of screen concern

    5. Kerry Jones says:

      This is one of the reasons paramedics are looking for different avenues to use their qualifications such as GP surgeries, minor injury units, walk in ,centres and so on. As most of us know that physically we will not be able to do the manual handling until we are 67 in my case!. Therefore experienced paramedics are leaving which is a real shame.

    6. Bruce Jackson says:

      All of the emergency services and Prison officers should retire at 55.

    7. Carl says:

      In what way does it feel that our profession is less stressful with hardly any down time being threatened whilst genuinely ill with capability and constant micro management . Absolutely tradgic that we are almost disposable.

    8. Craig says:

      The ambulance services in the UK are an “essential service provider” and are not recognised as Emergency service provider’s for this reason….
      The only recognised 24hr emergency service is that of the fire service as each case they attend is a matter of life or death lol, until status changes to reflect this then ambulance service staff will remain working longer for less! Many years ago the ambulances was run by the fire service, this allowed the ambulance to be classified as an emergency service at that time however upon becoming their own entity this was lost alongside this a continually growing trend of sending an ambulance to every call became the norm whilst fire service in the west midlands alone complete less than 200 cases per day!! Night shifts are so quiet they are able to sleep throughout most of them and have second full time jobs as a result…. something ambulance staff could only ever imagine…
      Fire services issue invoices if called out by ambo or police to assist be this at a fire or vehicle incident though this is not reciprocated by ambo or police given they provide an essential service.. however police officers only have to work 25yrs before being entitled to full pension and if you are a politician they are entitled to full pension after only 3 days in bloody post!!!!
      It is a very poor outcome for staff of the ambulance service who literally work until they die!!

    9. Wilf Griffin says:

      I am 51yo with 26yrs experience as an NHS paramedic. I suffer with prolapsed discs and have had a breakdown at work. I am currently awaiting a stage 3 sickness review interview with my employer which in theory could result in my dismissal. There is absolutely no way I could even imagine working until 65. A 65 yo paramedic will not be climbing down the embankments of the M4 at 2am to help you in your overturned car. Uncaring, sadistic expectations from government who just don’t care.

    10. Barry Baxter says:

      I am a serving Paramedic – 10 years as a Para but 18 in the Ambulance service in total. 10 – 15 years ago, A higher retirement age wasn’t great but it could have been worked physically. Now, it is impossible. We are so busy, my physical health has been affected , and I have 18 years to go. Our workload has increased so drastically, I think I’ll be lucky to reach 55 years old and still be effective. The concept of me being 65 and having to lift someone down the stairs potentially half my age is not only ridiculous but frightening. And realistic. It’s not wrong to to say our daily workload has trebled since the introduction of 111. I, and most of my colleagues are burnt out in every way. Missed or very late meal breaks regularly, ever increasing shift over runs due to lack of crews to spread the jobs out and an incessant demand to speed things up and get better government figures for the statistics. The talk now is the modern Paramedic’s job timeframe is 5 years. The idea of long service has gone because people cannot cope with the pressures. How the hell can we do this until we’re 65?

    11. Martin Hambling says:

      I have been a Paramedic for 12 years. The thought of having to continue to work with the current pressures, of which we all know will increase as funding for primary care gets further cuts simply scares me. To retire at 65yo in this profession is madness and as always we are being treated as the poor cousins of the emergency service, even to retire at 60 is 5years more than our counterparts.

    12. Nicky says:

      25 years already done and at the age of 52 I still have 15 more years to do. I’ve already had a full hip replacement, hysterectomy and mental health problems as well as numerous back and neck problems. There are no side ways moves for us to less physical roles so we are expected to work 12 hour night shifts and carry people well in to our 60’s….. yet the Fire and Police can retire at 55. It’s just not fair.

    13. Karen says:

      I’m 45 and 17 years in. I know that I will not make it to retirement age in this profession. I already have back pain and a current hip injury, I’m starting to struggle with the shifts. If I stand any chance of feeling well or capable through my retirement I know I need to find a different job

    14. Johnny says:

      This shouldn’t be argued here as everyfact put down isn’t the whole truth. You don’t mention the cost of each pension. For example the firefighters works out much less to fund as they pay a greater percentage of there wages into it. Also levels of pay are different. Police and paramedics get shift allowance and pay level increments were as the firefighters don’t. There is so much more so put all the facts on the table before you start asking what people think

    15. Andrew lightbody says:

      27 years in and 51 years old … years of niggling back pains from the years of carrying patients and wheeling them around as well as an rta in the ambulance … having had the govt force a change in pensions I now have 23 years on original pension , the 2015 pension means I lose 5% per year before I’m 67 ….. I cannot envisage any situation where I will physically be able to carry out the physical duties expected … and with the corporate plans of money is everything I see being sacked if unable to continue, there are no other positions to fall back on in the service …. it’s just work till you can’t or work till you die

    16. Maurice haslam says:

      The government in response to Unison pressure conducted a simple survey I believe in the late 90s to appease rather than change the situation. The chose a random sample is staff over the age of 50 all of whom had served 20 years, at the conclusion of the year all went quiet.continued request for the outcome produced a report that was quite alarming 100 percent death in harness all the chosen staff died during the trial. Once the results were made public a small amount of money was made available to allow staff over the age from memory of 55 to retire without actuarial loss of pension or to transfer from shift to day work. Political conscience lasted for 2 years and things then returned to previous arrangements. Several staff who took advantage of this offer still enjoy an active retirement in Derbyshire. Documentation to approve the changes was submitted to ambulances trust to Authorise the changes with particular reference to the change to the pension changes. Amazingly all went quiet and knowledge of this survey seems to have faded but evidence is available if there is the political will to seek the truth.

    17. Andrew Britton says:

      Aged 55 and 33 yrs service, 21yrs has a paramedic. I have decided to take my pension and return on a flexi contract.
      I am lucky I am still on the final salary pension scheme.
      I am doing it for a better work life balance, I just feel sorry for the younger staff members…. this not a career for life anymore.

    18. james says:

      As a paramedic of 8 years experience. Having paid for my own training and now seeking other jobs I have to say I dont know why anyone would willing join this job anymore. You physically and mentally bleed for your patients. You sacrifice so much, your health, life expectancy, safety, mental health, general well being, social life, relationships with family/friends and your children.

      This job is a non stop catalogue of personal sacrifice. I have served with people who have worked in war zones who say that they are less stressful than the NHS Frontline.

      Reality is they dont want us to get old and draw our pension. They want us to work till we drop dead.


    19. hugh donaghy says:

      I am an EMT and go through every physical and mental hurdles as my paramedic colleagues and I firmly believe that it is not only criminal but negligent that we are treated this way

    20. Rodger says:

      Same Old Story Essential Service Not Emergency Service

    21. Nigel Taylor says:

      Following on from Maurice Haslam’s comments I can remember well that in the old Derbyshire Ambulance Service (before becoming part of EMAS) most stations had crews consisting of 55 year olds plus who worked only day shifts – no nights or weekends. Some of these colleagues actually then managed to remain working until they reached 65.
      Unfortunately there is no longer anything in place to allow staff to step down slightly whilst remaining in a Technician or Paramedic front line role.
      I’m a 57 year old Paramedic, with 20 years service in, and find it increasingly difficult to cope with the massive increase in volume of calls and demands of the job. I finish most night shifts feeling physically and mentally exhausted – as do many of my much younger colleagues.
      There’s no way I could continue working on the front line until my state pension age of 66.



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