If we can provide health screening – we can provide pension guidance



Organising the Guidance Guarantee is a daunting task but it is no more daunting than many public welfare initiatives.

Each year the NHS screens and advises millions of us on a variety of health issues. From STDs to Breast Cancer, we have become used to public awareness campaigns that offer us  everything from broadcast reminders to face to face meetings with a recognised practitioner.

The Guidance sessions offered to those at their selected retirement age will be fulfilling the same function  as the  screenings we are used to. While for the majority of us , these sessions will be informative and part of a process we control, for a few, guidance will require an intervention from a specialist – typically a regulated adviser.

KPMG published an excellent blog recently asking

“can patients get and use the information they need”

Reading this , health and wealth guidance could be interchangeable.

Patients need information that is often very different from the information that doctors think they need.

Our research into patient groups across the world consistently showed that, what patients felt was crucial information was ignored by clinicians. In fact for some patients groups the biggest gap between what patients needed and what they got was information.

If patients don’t receive what they need to know, they will not be able to be as active in their own care as we need them to be.

Often the clinical explanation is fine but it rarely helps to alleviate the fear and anxiety that comes with a diagnosis.

Information for patients that they can use improves clinical effectiveness, safety and patient experience. It needs to adhere to quality standards, be user-tested, and to be useful it needs to be co-designed and co-produced. Information must also be designed to meet different levels of health literacy.

It is now a basic requirement for organizations to have ways of communicating online and through mobile phone technology. Using clinically accredited apps to support chronic conditions and individual episodes of care, such as maternity care is the next step.

It is absolutely right to put the process in the hands of the independent agencies, MAS and TPAs. I have great respect for drugs firms but I would not trust them to advise me on my medical needs, I have great respect for insurers but they don’t offer me a view of my options-merely the options that suit them.

I have confidence that just as the NHS provides me with the superstructure under which my health needs are delivered, the delivery may be from NHS staff or from sub-contractors, managed by the NHS.

I am not concerned about the structure of the delivery, I am concerned that it delivers to my needs. The more I can do online, the better for me- I am not happy sitting around in waiting rooms. But I am glad that drop in centres and A and E departments are there for me if I feel the need.

A lot of people say that we cannot recreate through TPAS , MAS, the Citizens Advice Bureaux and Age UK the support mechanism for 3-400,000 people retiring each year.

If we had adopted that attitude when we established the NHS, we would have a healthcare system as dislocated and un inclusive as n the USA. It is because we rise to the national challenges we set ourselves that we progress.

So let’s put aside the prejudices we may bring with us. I know that many IFAs resent MAS for the fees they pay to what they consider a wasteful rival. I know many regard TPAS as a tin-pot chat room for pension do-gooders, I’ve heard the jibes about CAB and the general scorn poured upon the concept of the Guidance Guarantee.

But dissing the project misses one important point – the Guidance Guarantee is the opportunity we have to restore people’s confidence in the retirement process. I was sceptical about the Olympics and was proved wrong, I was equally sceptical about auto-enrolment and I am sceptical about the Guidance Guarantee.

But I loved the Olympics, am loving the way we are steering auto-enrolment forward and am determined that the Guidance Guarantee and what follows it (the development of better in retirement products) will work!

This article first appeared in http://www.pensionplaypen.com


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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