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Pension tax “could destroy NHS”

Written by: Emma Lunn
The British Medical Association (BMA) has revealed the true extent of changes to the pension regime on the NHS.

Thousands of GPs and hospital consultants have reduced their working hours, or plan to, because of pension tax laws.

Changes in pension rules from 2016 people who earn more than £110,000 a year faced new limits on how much they could contribute to their pension. As a result many doctors face paying tax rates of up to 90 per cent on a portion of their income – meaning overtime is simply not worth doing.

More than 6,000 doctors from hospitals and general practice across England, Wales and Northern Ireland took part in the BMA survey. It found that 42 per cent of GPs have already reduced the number of hours spent caring for patients because of actual or potential pension taxation charges, in addition to 34 per cent of GPs who are now planning to reduce their hours.

Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA GP committee, said:  “These results show the extent to which GPs are being forced to reduce their hours or indeed leave the profession altogether because of pension taxes. With patient lists growing and the numbers of GPs falling, swift and decisive action is needed from the government to end this shambolic situation and to limit the damage that a punitive pensions taxation system is inflicting on doctors, their patients and across the NHS as a whole.”

Almost a third (30 per cent) of hospital consultants have already reduced their hours, with 40 per cent saying they plan to do so.

The majority of consultants are contracted to work an average of 46 hours per week and the BMA says that many have given up, or want to give up, 10 hours a week. This represents several hundred thousand hours of patient time lost across the UK.

At the end of 2018, the BMA surveyed hospital consultants and found then that more than a third of all respondents were planning to reduce their work commitments by up to 50 per cent with nearly 18 per cent in the process of planning to reduce their working time even further or leave altogether.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said: “No one would have predicted pensions would have the power to bring the NHS to crumble and yet with every week we get more evidence showing us just that. Today the BMA have revealed that an astonishing 42 per cent of GPs have already reduced their hours because of pensions. If this does not spur swift action from policy makers then nothing will.

“The new prime minister has already pledged that he will solve the problem of NHS pensions, but the only action we’ve seen to date is the 50/50 proposal, which is the equivalent of a band aid being used when there is a heart attack, and will not solve the devastating scenario we now face.

“The only clear path seems to be abolish the root of the problem – the annual allowance taper. While finding the much needed cash for the move will be a treasure hunt, if they don’t the health of the nation is at risk.”

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