BMA supports end to ‘retire and return’ pension restrictions, but addressing pension taxation is most urgent issue to stop doctors leaving

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Sunday 28 August 2022
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Responding to the launch of a consultation around extending the suspension to certain ‘retire and return’ restrictions for some NHS staff1, Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA pensions committee chair, said:

“It is completely illogical to penalise dedicated staff who wish to return to the NHS after retiring by reducing their pension. The BMA therefore fully support the abolition of these arrangements. However, the reality is that this policy only affects a small number of doctors seeking to return post-retirement – namely psychiatrists with ‘mental health officer’ status - and it does nothing to prevent the exodus of senior consultants and GPs who are retiring from the NHS due to absurd punitive pensions tax charges.

“Pension taxation is a far, far greater issue impacting the most experienced NHS professionals, and it is a long-term solution to this that will have the greatest impact on tackling the record waiting list and bolstering the NHS for what looks set to be another horrific winter for the health service. Not doing so will make the situation we’re currently seeing in the health service much worse.

“To suggest that the small changes proposed in this consultation on their own will have any meaningful effect on waiting times and patient experience, without addressing punitive taxation rules, is completely disingenuous.

“In the short-term, the BMA is clear that we need urgent changes to the Finance Act to fix issues caused by sky-high inflation, while the long-term solution must be to introduce a tax unregistered pension scheme for senior NHS staff, similar to that introduced for the judges to address their own recruitment and retention problems.

“Meanwhile, for the staff that this latest announcement does affect, the suspension of these rules is due to expire in October, and the BMA has been warning the Government for over a year about the need to make this suspension permanent. It is completely negligent of government to have left this so late and it is inevitable that in the intervening period many psychiatrists will have taken the decision to retire and not return to the NHS.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Please contact the Department for Health and Social Care for full details.