Pensions Crisis Leading Senior Doctors To Reduce Their Hours

Any attempt by the Government to address the pensions crisis leading senior doctors to reduce their hours must include proper tax reform if it is to avert this “grave threat” to staff and patients, the BMA says. The BMA’s comments are in response to an article in the Sunday Times by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who writes.

It cannot be right, for instance, that people are waiting so long to see their GP; and it cannot be right that so many GPs and consultants are leaving the service, or cutting their hours, for fear of whopping tax bills. It is clear that something has gone badly wrong in the taxation of doctors’ pensions. So this government is listening. They are fixing it. They are changing the rules so that doctors no longer face a perverse incentive to reduce hours.”

The pensions crisis

However, the newspaper also reports that “the NHS pension scheme will be remodeled so that senior doctors can be more flexible about their pension saving”, rather than tax rules changed. The BMA, which has led the campaigning on the issue; says it is positive that the Government is beginning to recognise the problem; but that the real solution must be in overhauling; the damaging tax legislation including the annual allowance and tapered annual allowance; that leaves senior doctors facing significant and unexpected tax bills.

“While flexibilities may help in the short-term; what is need is a drastic overhaul of pension tax regulations; including the damaging annual allowance and taper annual allowance; to stop this absurd situation; also avert this grave threat to our NHS workforce and patients and we will continue to push the Government for this crucial change.”

“For the NHS to provide high quality services fit for the 21st Century and meet the needs of patients; it is vital that we have adequate facilities which are up-to-date and in good working order. “Yet for too long, capital budgets meant for investment in premises and facilities have been divert to prop up the day-to-day running of the health service.

Unfinished maintenance work

“This has led to recent warnings about the perilous state of hospital buildings; so from crumbling walls and ceilings to serious plumbing problems; so with estimates putting the bill for current unfinished maintenance work at £6bn. There is also an urgent requirement for funding for additional; hospital capacity to avoid the near constant use of emergency ‘escalation’ beds which so impair normal hospital productivity. “Furthermore, GP practice buildings are increasingly unfit for purpose, frequently unable to accommodate enough patients or health professionals to meet the needs of their local area.

A recent BMA survey found that only half of practices felt their premises were suitable for present needs; so while less than a quarter would meet the future needs of a growing population. “The announcement of 20 hospital upgrades and £1.8bn, including money for capital budgets, is a step forward, providing a vital injection of cash to spend improving hospitals; also they await details from the Prime Minister on where the money will go.

However, it is equally vital that new investment must be direct to address the impoverish state of general practice buildings so that there is increase capacity for GP staff and services, without which the Prime Minister’s ambition to reduce waiting times will not be achievable. “To reverse years of underfunding, it is critical for this money to mark the beginning of sustain levels of investment to ensure NHS estates are of the highest standard for delivering the care patients need.”