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NHS waiting lists surge due to pensions row

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Written by: Emma Lunn
08/07/2019
Waiting lists for hospital operations are soaring because senior doctors say they cannot afford to work extra shifts due to pension changes.

Changes in pension rules means high earners who earn more than £110,000 a year faced new limits on how much they could contribute to their pension from 2016.

As a result many hospital consultants could end up paying tax rates of up to 90 per cent on a portion of their income. Many are refusing to work beyond their planned hours after receiving unexpected tax bills.

NHS hospitals said waiting lists for routine surgery have risen by up to 50 per cent as a result of doctors boycotting extra shifts.

Gary Smith, chartered financial planner at Tilney, said: “The Chancellor Philip Hammond has ruled out scrapping the tapered pension allowance, but has proposed making the NHS scheme more flexible, with a mooted 50:50 arrangement that would allow members to reduce the amount put in their pension to avoid the tax charges.

“However, our analysis shows that while such a move might help address the issue of tax charges, it would leave senior NHS staff no better off than if they incurred the tax charges, so is little more than a mirage.

“The likelihood of a new Chancellor being appointed following the imminent change of Prime Minister might be an opportunity for a more fundamental rethink on the tapered allowance – introduced by George Osborne – which is widely perceived as unfair. While controlling the cost of pension tax relief is understandable for Government, there are much simpler solutions, like a lower annual allowance or a flat rate of relief for all.”

The British Medical Association warned last month that the NHS pension crisis could directly impact patient care.

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