In its latest effort to clear patient backlogs, NHS England last week offered to cover pension tax charges incurred by doctors doing extra sessions on retirement.
The BMA is seeking assurances that these payments will be guaranteed even if a doctor’s current employer or even NHS England were to not exist in their current form at such a time. In addition, the BMA is seeking assurances that there would be no unintended tax liabilities arising from these payments and the scheme would not be treated as “tax planning” or “tax avoidance”.
However, this comes as a The Doctors’ Association UK survey of hospital doctors suggested the emergency plan would not be enough to convince doctors to return to the wards. Nearly 96 per cent of 959 hospital consultants who responded to DAUK’s poll on the deal said it was insufficient to get them to pick up extra sessions over winter.
Dr Rinesh Parmar told the Financial Times (full quote):
“The pensions taxation crisis has forced many Consultants to reduce the overtime and additional work they were doing for the NHS on top of their contracted hours for fear of facing unexpected tax bills stretching to the tens of thousands of pounds. Some have faced the prospect of re-mortgaging their homes to pay for bills that have arrived without warning, simply for working above and beyond to help our NHS.
With over 4.41 million people in England alone awaiting elective operations there are patients who are suffering in pain, coming to harm or even dying whilst waiting for surgery.
We’ve seen the number of patients dying whilst on a waiting list rise from 18,876 in 2012/13 to 29,553 in 2017/18; this government-made crisis will undoubtedly put more patients at risk. This was an entirely predictable and preventable crisis for which the Conservative government has had multiple warnings, all of which have fallen on deaf ears.
Doctors have been clear that the only solution is scrapping the taper and annual allowance for the NHS pension. These panicked short-term proposals will not fix the problem, and by the Health Secretary’s own words may even amount to tax avoidance. Our poll shows that consultants do not trust this government’s hurried promises that they will one-day be repaid their tax bills on retirement, and that an overwhelming majority of respondents said this proposal would not encourage them to resume extra work over the winter.
None of the major political parties have committed to what doctors are calling for, only pledging a review of the pensions taxation, this ship has sadly already sailed. We urgently need reform of pension taxation and DAUK will continue to lobby all parties for a clear commitment to scraping the taper and the annual allowance for the NHS, representing a fairer system that values doctors and safeguards patients.”
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