Pensions Freeze Triggers Doctor Exodus Concerns

Priscilla Lynch 

March 09, 2021

The Chancellor has imposed an ‘unfair tax’ on doctors, according to the British Medical Association (BMA), as it published survey results that reveal many doctors now plan to leave the NHS before their expected retirement.

Announcing his 2021 budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined the freezing of the lifetime allowance for pensions – in a move the BMA says will disproportionately affect doctors.

It comes as a new BMA survey, responded to by more than 7,000 doctors, reveals that 72 per cent would be likely to leave the NHS earlier and 61 per cent would be likely to work fewer hours or part-time if the freezing of the lifetime allowance was put in place. 

BMA pensions committee chair Vishal Sharma said: "Freezing the pension lifetime allowance is a bad decision and is creating the perfect storm – forcing an exhausted workforce – many of which are already planning to work fewer hours – to make some very tough decisions such as working less hours or leaving the NHS long before they would naturally retire.

"If they don’t, they will face huge pension taxation bills because the NHS pension scheme is not flexible enough to allow doctors to vary and manage their contributions. They simply cannot keep working and face huge pension tax bills as a result."

Dr Sharma added: "The potentially disastrous impact of this on the NHS and patient care is unthinkable, especially at the current time when the impact of COVID-19 and the backlog of patient care is so acutely felt."

He said that the Government has announced a solution to this problem for judges, and the BMA is calling for them to do the same for doctors.

The chancellor’s budget speech did not announce any new funding for the health service. There were no announcements on social care or public sector pay.

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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