BMA warns NHS on cusp of major workforce crisis

11 June 2019

British Medical Association (BMA) Chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has written to Prime Minister Theresa May warning of the risk of losing “large swathes of expertise from the NHS’s most experienced doctors at a time when the overstretched service needs it most”.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul wrote to Mrs May with regard to the BMA’s ongoing concern that the NHS is on the cusp of a major workforce crisis, warning that the Government has taken too long to acknowledge the impact of pension taxes on the NHS workforce. He called on her to put pressure on Chancellor Philip Hammond to meet with the BMA immediately.

The BMA said that even GPs in their 30s have been advised by accountants to reduce their working hours to avoid incurring annual allowance tax charges, and that other GPs have refused shifts to avoid taxes that mean they lose money for working more.

The problem is also impacting the Defence Medical Services where, according to the BMA, unless a resolution is found “it will lead to severe shortages and put at risk the ability to deploy”.

The impact of current pension taxation policy has been raised with the Government by a number of MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions over recent months and, according to Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the issue has been growing across parliamentary debates and in the national press. He said the current Government policy “is driving doctors out of the workforce”.

Despite the recent launch of the Health and Social Care Secretary’s consultation on flexibility for the NHS Pension scheme, the BMA has argued that the 50:50 proposal contained within will categorically not solve the problem. It said it not only results in doctors receiving a lower pension, but also fails to remove the “perverse incentive” for doctors to reduce the work they do for the NHS, particularly if there is no recycling of employers’ pension contributions back to the employees.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “Although we hope to meet the Secretary of State to discuss short-term mitigating options, the true solution lies in pension taxation reform.”

He concluded that the annual and tapered annual allowance are not only unnecessary but are significantly damaging the ability to maintain safe, sufficient patient care and must be scrapped urgently.