At the end of 2018, the BMA consultants committee ran a survey of consultant members in England regarding their knowledge of Annual and Lifetime Taxation regulations.
The survey, which received over 4000 responses, looked at the impact this might have on consultants' plans for doing extra work for the NHS, leaving the NHS pension scheme, or retiring early from working for the NHS. Of the consultants that responded:
- Nearly 58% were over the age of 50
- Around 10% were over the age of 60
- 83% were working full time
- The remaining are spread across three different pension schemes
Consultants that intend to retire early
Survey results show that 6 out of 10 consultants intend to retire before or at the age of 60.
For 55.7% of consultants, the second most important factor influencing the intended retirement age, after work/life balance (69.7%), is the annual and lifetime allowance regulations.
However, for 75.7% of consultants who are planning to bring forward their retirement or retire and return, concern about the annual and lifetime allowance is the single most important factor.
Our results show that only 6.5% of consultants expect to remain working after age 65.
Over a third of all respondents expect to reduce their work commitments by up to 50%, with nearly 18% in the process of planning to reduce their working time even further, including a complete withdrawal from service.
Percentage of the workforce impacted
Survey results show that early retirement is a consideration not just for consultants nearing the end of their careers, but also for those at the beginning and in the middle of their careers.
82% of all respondents to our survey were between the ages of 40-60, with 42% under the age of 50.
Percentage of consultants that cut back on work
Survey results show that knowledge of the limits to the annual or lifetime allowance has had a major impact on the decisions which consultants are making about taking on extra work. Specifically:
- 50% of consultants are less likely or have already given up doing extra PAs (17% do not wish to do them presently).
- 51% of consultants are less likely or have already given up taking on roles with additional remuneration (18% do not do them now).
- 41.% of consultants are less likely or have already given up doing waiting list initiative work (27% do not do them now).
Percentage of consultants unaware of repercussions
Only 20% of respondents informed us that they were fully familiar with annual and lifetime allowance regulations, while 38% of respondents informed us that they were not sure what those regulations meant for them personally.
44% of respondents were also not aware of what impact tapering would have on their personal situation.
Giving the serious repercussions of breaching annual or lifetime allowance for a consultant, these figures are worrying.
BMA consultants committee survey shows that unfair taxation arrangements are forcing many consultants to cut back on NHS work and retire early.
Not only are these tax regulations forcing people to retire early but they are also forcing people to cut back on the work they are doing before they are retiring. The implications of that combined effect on the service which we work hard to provide to our patients is serious.
Clearly, with a developing workforce crisis producing a growing shortage of staff of all kinds and at all levels, at present the NHS needs all the additional work it can get from consultants.
These pernicious tax charges are instead delivering a perverse incentive to consultants and persuading them to reduce their commitment to the NHS or to end it at an earlier stage than they otherwise would have done. It is ironic that, at a time when the Secretary of State for Health talks so warmly about increasing productivity within secondary care, that such powerful disincentives to increased working are developed and applied by the Treasury.
Pension rules force consultants to retire early