NHS pension crisis directly impacts patient care, warns BMA

The new NHS Employers report outlines a ‘pension crisis’ that healthcare leaders fear is impacting patient care

A new report from NHS Employers highlights the impact of changes to the NHS pension scheme on doctors.

According to the data, senior doctors are turning down work and retiring early in order to avoid a large tax bill on their pensions.

It also shows that 42% of consultants have reduced the number of additional shifts they work, while 20% have cut their hours.

The report also highlights that 33% of consultants are considering an early retirement, while 44% are thinking about reducing their working hours.

The main concern, regarding this report, is that the ‘pension crisis’ is directly impacting patient care.

Responding to the report, Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultant committee chair, said:

“This comprehensive NHS Employers report backs the BMA’s own assessment of how serious the pension crisis now is.

“It shows a pattern of doctors being penalised with unfair and unwarranted tax bills, on average of around £22,000, with 99 doctors receiving staggering charges of more than £50,000.

“As the BMA has warned, these charges are resulting in many doctors reconsidering their working patterns in the NHS which will have a direct impact on patient care.

“According to the NHSE report, a fifth of respondents have already reduced their working hours while a further four in ten are considering this option in the future.

“This is in line with the BMA’s research from earlier this year, which showed significant numbers considering curtailing their work for the NHS or opting for early retirement.

“There was further evidence in the NHS Employers report of doctors deliberately choosing not to take on managerial roles.

“Just as worrying is that one out of four of those who could be affected are completely unaware of its potential impact, which dramatically underlines the lack of information from the NHS to doctors.

“It is organisations like the BMA that are stepping in to provide support given the vacuum and unacceptable slow pace at which the government is reacting to this crisis.

“Given this situation, patients are facing the prospect of fewer senior doctors on their wards and in their hospitals providing care.

“There are already widespread workforce shortages across the NHS that are resulting in cancelled operations, long waiting lists and all year-round pressures across the health service.  This is another blow to the NHS workforce that it can ill-afford.

“The government needs to wake up to the reality of the mess that these pension changes are causing. We have written to the prime minister and the chancellor telling them that urgent action is needed.

“The next prime minister needs to get a grip rapidly and reverse these changes. We cannot allow this crisis to deepen any further.”

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