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BMA urges Conservative leadership hopefuls to address pension taxation as NHS in deepening crisis

The BMA has written to Conservative leadership candidates Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson urging them to make reform of the current pension taxation rules a priority to avoid patient care deteriorating further.

The letters have been sent on the day that NHS performance figures1 reveal a staggering 70 percent increase in patients waiting on trolleys to be seen - compared to June last year and the A&E four-hour target worse than the wintertime.

Though pension taxes are just one part of the wider issues informing these figures, the BMA points out that doctors having to reduce their hours or retire from the NHS early will only exacerbate poor levels of patient care and reduced staffing levels.

With today’s figures also showing that over 1 million people are now on waiting lists for diagnostics tests such as MRI scans, and more than 43 thousand of those have waited longer than six weeks, the next Prime Minister needs to act quickly to reverse this and to reform a taxation which is driving senior doctors out of the NHS.  

In letters to the two Conservative leadership candidates, the chair of the BMA, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, warns that the BMA is “deeply concerned about significant reductions in capacity within the NHS” citing the “worrying evidence” that pension taxation is having on the NHS.

Recognising the commitment made by Boris Johnson this week to tackle punitive pension taxation rules for public sector workers affected by the lifetime allowance, Dr Nagpaul writes:

“We ask you to extend your commitment to reform the lifetime allowance to also address the perverse impact caused by the annual allowance and the tapered annual allowance should you become the next Prime Minister.”

In a letter to Jeremy Hunt, the BMA also calls on the former health secretary to prioritise the pension issues to address the adverse impact on workforce capacity, as Dr Nagpaul writes:

“Given your in-depth understanding of the NHS following your time as health secretary, we ask you make a commitment to reform the lifetime allowance and to address the punitive impact caused by the annual allowance and the tapered annual allowance should you become the next Prime Minister.”

The letters reference a survey of consultants carried out by the BMA earlier in the year which reveals the extent of the workforce crisis emerging from the current pension taxation as, which reads:

“Our survey of over 4,000 consultants, revealed that over 60% intended to retire at or before the age of 60, with more than half citing the pensions taxation issues as the reason for this.

“GP’s are similarly impacted resulting in a fall in whole time equivalent GP numbers at a time when the government has commitment to recruit 5000 new GPs. This worrying trend is coupled with a subsequent increase in patient waiting times for GP appointments.”

The full text of the letters below:

BMA letter to Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP.pdf
BMA letter to Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP .pdf


Notes to editors

The BMA is a 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. Latest NHS performance stats can be found here.
  2. Findings of BMA survey of consultants can be found here.

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