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While last week’s General Election result may have answered the question of who will be holding the keys to Number 10 as we enter 2020, it is clear that the NHS is in crisis. The latest NHS performance figures, released the day after the election or once again the worst since records began. The BMA have written to the Prime Minister to set out those areas which need the Government’s immediate focus.
For consultants the most pressing issue remains the disastrous pension taxation system that is currently preventing many senior doctors from working additional hours and forcing many to consider early retirement. In the days since being re-elected, the Prime Minister has repeated the government’s commitment to ‘ a review of the taper problem’, but the time for a review has been and gone and what is needed is firm and decisive action to provide a long-term solution.
The Government and NHS England have been quite clear that pensions tax rules are having a significant impact on the NHS and patients, which is why they recently announced emergency mitigations for clinicians who incur annual allowance tax charges for 2019/20. While this may provide some temporary relief, this is not a long-term solution and does not cover all staff.
Like Ebenezer Scrooge, the Prime Minister, must face up to the mistakes of the past and acknowledge how the Government’s unintended tax policies are impacting both doctors and patients. Then he must look to the future and take urgent action to scrap the taper and annual allowance in defined benefit schemes such as the NHS pension scheme. This is not only fair but is the only option that will completely solve this problem. This will benefit not only those doctors working in the NHS but will also help those involved in training the next generation of much needed doctors in universities, those supporting our armed forces in the field as well as senior allied health professionals and non-clinical staff that play a vital role in our NHS.
The message from the BMA to the Government has been clear - the Budget expected in early 2020 must include a commitment to real action and we have requested an urgent meeting with the Chancellor to discuss this.
Our members can also play a key role in this, which is why we’re calling for your help in raising this issue with your newly elected MP, calling on them to put pressure on the Chancellor to include the required pension taxation reform in their first budget. The impact so far has been devastating but we know that without action, the situation is only going to get worse as more people are forced to reduce the amount of work they do for the NHS. The BMA have been campaigning on this issue for nearly 18 months and have been warning of the impact this will have on patients. Finally, the government are starting to listen. However, we must keep up the momentum and ensure that there is a proper solution.
Vish Sharma is chair of the BMA pensions committee
Write to your MP using our template letter
Want to work and do extra lists- can’t as I am financially penalised. Simple to fix if you care Boris.
Pension issues need to sorted ASAP, it will patient care in future as Senior Consultants will not be extra work and retire early.
As there is incentive to work.
Hospitals are paying up to 5 times to Locum or Agency Doctors as substantive doctors are refusing to take up additional sessions
Thinking about moving to Australia for the last 5 years of my career. Pensions issue is one of the biggest reasons for leaving
Many of us are already effected and facing huge tax bills as a punishment for the extra work done to the NHS.If there is a solution for 2019 onwards there must be a solution for all those who are effected by the tapering from 2016.I am aware many of our colleagues ended up remortgaging their house to pay huge tax bills .Is BMA going to raise this with the new government?
Thanks to the committee for all the great work. In light of the Fire Fighters court judgement last week, surely we also need to push for remedial action to be applied to the NHS pension scheme members who were similarly victims of age discrimination by the non-optional transition to 2015 Ts&Cs
I recently learned that 800 members of staff have opted out of the NHS pension scheme in my trust (of course not all will be doctors) but none are getting the hospital pension contribution as additional salary. As this is part of our basic negotiated package in effect hospital chief executive and finance directors are robbing their hard working staff.
I think this is very sad.
The BMA should insist in the new consultant contract, that if doctors do not opt into the NHS pension scheme, then the trust MUST pay the pensions contribution it was liable for as additional salary.
This is the only fair way to continue.