Sales pitch led nurse to transfer pension: NHS staff may have lost thousands of pounds. Helen Nowicka reports

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Amanda Pollock took out a personal pension in October 1989 at the end of her three-year training to become a Registered General Nurse.

A salesman from Legal & General who visited the nursing home at Bedford General Hospital told her she would be better off if she left the nurses' superannuation scheme.

Mrs Pollock and her five colleagues were so impressed by the pitch that they all agreed to start personal pensions with Legal & General. What they did not realise was by leaving the superannuated scheme they would forfeit additional benefits for illness, injury and death in service.

Following media coverage of problems faced by other nurses with personal pensions Mrs Pollock contacted the Royal College of Nursing's advice line.

She then learned that as she had no intention of leaving the NHS she would have been best advised to remain within the occupational scheme, and could have lost substantial sums of money by not doing so.

'I think I have lost thousands of pounds in the last five years, that is the biggest worry. I won't get half as much with Legal & General as I would with the superannuated scheme,' she said.

Mike Rutherford, managing director of RCN Membership Services, said its pensions helpline had been inundated with calls from nurses. 'We believe in the majority of cases 'bad advice' has been given. Mrs Pollock is a prime example,' he said.

After being advised by the helpline, Mrs Pollock, of Walthamstow, east London, has contacted Legal & General to start the process of rejoining the superannuated scheme.

A spokesman for the firm said 'handfuls' of people in a similar position had contacted the company, and each case was receiving serious consideration.

'If anyone has received bad advice we will compensate them to make sure they are in no worse position than before they left their original scheme. All cases will be dealt with,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)