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Doctors will leave the NHS unless pension taxation is overhauled, BMA tells Prime Minister

In a letter to the Prime Minister1, the BMA says the NHS is on the cusp of a major workforce crisis and that patients will suffer unless there is significant reform to pension taxation.

BMA chair of council Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“Current government policy is driving doctors out of the workforce. The BMA has been working tirelessly to alert HM Treasury and wider Government to the reality of losing large swathes of expertise from the NHS’s most experienced doctors at a time when the over-stretched service needs it most. Without the good will of doctors to cover waiting lists and gaps in rotas as well as extra sessions in GP surgeries, patients will suffer.

“The power to resolve this situation ultimately lies with the Treasury and frankly it has taken too long for the problem to be properly acknowledged. We note the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care’s recent announcement of a consultation on flexibility for the NHS Pension scheme but as he already knows, the BMA remains convinced the 50:50 proposal will not solve the problem. This option will not only result in doctors receiving a lower pension, but it also does not remove the perverse incentive for doctors to reduce the work they do for the NHS. This is particularly the case if there is no recycling of employers’ pension contributions back to the employees.

“This problem is also impacting our Defence Medical Services, where unless a resolution is found it will lead to severe shortages and put at risk the ability to deploy.”

The BMA has asked for an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to discuss some short-term options, but the Association remains convinced that the true solution lies in pension taxation reform.

The letter to the Prime Minister acknowledges she is in her final days in office but asks her to support the BMA by calling on the Chancellor to meet with the Association soon and agree a definitive solution.

The BMA is already aware of doctors reducing their hours and not providing cover at weekends; the Association believes the annual and tapered annual allowances are unnecessary in defined benefit schemes such as the NHS as members are unable to control their pension growth and tax relief is already limited through tiered contribution rates and the lifetime allowance.

These limits must be scrapped if high quality, safe patient care is to be delivered in the future.


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. The letter to the Prime Minister is here
  2. Find more information about the Annual Allowance and its impact on doctors here.

For further information please contact:

British Medical Association, BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JP
Telephone: 020 7383 6448 
Email: [email protected]
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