Hospital Dr News

BMA urges new PM to overhaul pension tax rules following Sunday Times article

Government action on doctors’ pensions must include drastic overhaul of tax rules that are causing ‘grave threat’ to patients.

That’s the view of the BMA, responding to the new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent article in the Sunday Times which claimed the government was addressing the pensions crisis.

The BMA called for proper tax reform to avert leading senior doctors from reducing their hours.

In the Sunday Times, the Prime Minister 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. We are fixing it. We are changing the rules so that doctors no longer face a perverse incentive to reduce hours.”

However, the newspaper also reports that “the NHS pension scheme will be re-modeled so that senior doctors can be more flexible about their pension saving”, rather than tax rules changed.

The BMA 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.

A major survey by the BMA last week revealed that 42% of GPs and 30% of consultants had already reduced their working hours over actual or potential pension charges. Of those who hadn’t reduced their hours already, 34% of GPs and 40% of consultants said they were planning to for the same reason.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s comments, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “If the Prime Minister is serious about improving care and tackling waiting times he must give patients reassurance that senior hospital doctors and GPs will be able to continue to provide care, and not be forced out by absurd taxes on their pensions that mean all too often they are paying to go to work.

“Flexibility alone is not the solution – especially without employers’ full pension contributions being recycled back into doctors’ salaries.

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

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