Gay man denied partner’s NHS pension rights

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A gay man whose partner unexpectedly died of heart failure weeks before their 15th anniversary last March has voiced disapproval at the NHS Pensions Agency after it has emerged he will not be entitled to pensions or death gratuity.

Nigel Holland-Williams, 46, claimed Mark Holland, 48, a former NHS worker, expressed a wish that the benefits would go to him, but as the couple were not in a civil partnership, it may instead be transferred to Mr Holland’s ex wife.

Mr Holland Williams told the Borehamwood and Elstree Times, “It was always Mark’s intention that his death gratuity and pension would come to me if he died first. As he was only 48 and died suddenly he had not made a will.

“The pension department of the hospital is now denying any knowledge of his wishes.”

He said he has no idea where the wife is, “They had not been in contact for 23 years. They got married because Mark’s dad gave him an ultimatum back in the 1970s. I don’t even know if she’s still alive or if she’s divorced him.”

Both men were HIV patients, Mr Holland Williams has now given up his job and is seeking counselling, “This is the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life. I’m absolutely penniless and I’ve been thinking about suicide.

“All my partner’s work colleagues and managers were aware of Mark’s wishes and yet the pension trust is still refusing to accept this,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Kingston Hospital NHS Trust said: “We appreciate this must be a very emotional and stressful time for Mr Holland’s partner and his family.”

A spokesman for the NHS Pensions Agency said: “We administer the legislation provided to us by Parliament.

“The way the legislation is worded is that when someone passes away, their death gratuity lump sum and pension goes to their surviving relatives, usually their spouse.

“What an employee can do is elect to pay the lump sum to whoever they wish, but to do so they need to fill in the appropriate form, send it back to us, and then we will confirm to them that we’ve received it.

“We will also confirm it to the person nominated. If someone has not elected an individual to receive the lump sum, the legislation forces us to pay that to their surviving spouse or civil partner.”