Consultants have renewed calls to reform NHS pension rules after an ‘alarming’ survey found they were driving many to cut hours and retire early.
Six out of 10 of the 4,000 consultants responding to a BMA survey revealed early retirement plans, many citing the penalties incurred by breaching annual and lifetime pension allowance limits as chief drivers behind them.
Fewer than one in 10 consultants (6.5 per cent) plan to continue working after the age of 65, it also found.
A third plan to halve their workload and a fifth (18 per cent) want to reduce their hours even more.
The Treasury-imposed rules on pension allowance, driving many of these decisions, have landed consultants with massive unexpected tax bills, BMA consultants committee chair Rob Harwood has warned.
‘It cannot be right that these unfair regulations are landing hard-working doctors with exorbitant tax bills for simply doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and are forcing them to cut back on the work they are already doing for the NHS,’ Dr Harwood said.
‘Not only, then, 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.’
Dr Harwood has written to the chancellor Philip Hammond and health secretary Matt Hancock to highlight the ‘desperate implications’ of the NHS pension rules for the NHS.
‘Our most expert and experienced doctors are being forced to retire early because of their lifetime commitment to the NHS,’ he said.
‘I have urged the removal of the annual and lifetime allowance cap for public sector workers.’
The letter also calls for a new national policy to help members who have already left the pension scheme.
Concerns about the effect of the NHS pension rules on doctors were raised last year with the chancellor by BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul.
The BMA is now taking legal advice following a court of appeal ruling last year, which found the Government had discriminated against firefighters and judges in relation to changes to their pensions, and about what effect this may have on doctors.
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