Hospital Dr News

Hundreds of hospital consultants say they’ll leave the NHS well before retirement age

The NHS faces a future without hundreds of senior skilled hospital doctors as they consider leaving the health service years before they would be expected to, claims research.

The results of a survey of hospital consultants, conducted by the BMA and published today, shows:

  • Six out of ten consultant doctors are intending to retire from the NHS before or at the age of 60. They say the need for a better work-life balance is the primary driver for leaving the NHS;
  • Concerns around the impact of current pension legislation is the second most important factor influencing consultants’ intended retirement age;
  • Less than 7% say they expect to remain working in the NHS after the age of 65;
  • Over a third of all respondents expect to reduce the number of days they work in the NHS by up to 50%;
  • Almost 18% are in the process of planning to reduce their working time even further, including a complete withdrawal from service;
  • More than 40% said they are less likely, or have already given up taking part in work initiatives to reduce waiting lists.

The implications of such a significant loss of skilled and specialist clinicians both on the junior staff they teach and the patients they care for is potentially disastrous for the NHS, says the union.

In the same week that the Government published its Long-Term Plan for the NHS, the survey suggests its high ambitions will be undeliverable if the specialist staff needed to provide the care have taken early retirement.

Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said: “Such a situation is clearly untenable. During a deepening workforce crisis, the NHS needs its most experienced and expert doctors now more than ever.

“I struggle to understand how the Health Secretary can talk about increasing productivity in hospital care, while allowing the NHS to be a system which perversely encourages its most experienced doctors to do less work and, in some cases, to leave when they do not want to.

“This is happening against the backdrop of the derisory new pay settlement for consultants in England – an average weekly uplift of just £6.10 after tax – at a time when they have lost over 24% of take-home pay in the last decade.”

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