'Pension pay squeeze begins'
Flavia Munn, BMA News
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Doctors have condemned the unfairness of pension changes as the first rise in their contributions appeared in [April's] payslips.
The BMA has repeated its reasons for moving to a ballot on industrial action as increased payments to the pension pot are taken from doctors’ April pay packets.
Doctors leaders have urged medics to voice their opinion on the changes by voting in [this] month’s ballot, which will be the first such action for 37 years.
BMA pensions committee chair Alan Robertson said: ‘The government’s unnecessary pension changes have become real for most doctors for the first time this month. When you receive your April payslip, check the pension contributions against the figures for March.
‘For most doctors, the increase is significant. Of course, this is just the start, with contributions set to go up again next year and the year after. Then in 2015 [there will be] an increase in the normal pension age and the end of the final salary scheme for hospital doctors.’
The changes see the highest-earning consultants or GPs paying almost 11 per cent of their earnings this month to the NHS pension scheme — contributions which will rise to 14.5 per cent in two years’ time.
Meanwhile, staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors will pay up to around 10 per cent of their salaries and specialty registrars around 8 per cent.
Glasgow GP Mary Church told BMA News: ‘I am 58, a GP and resent having to pay even more than I already do. I am now forced to pay more and frankly it is the last straw.’
She added: ‘I don’t feel my working life is over so I have decided to take my pension early and have secured a job [as a GP] overseas. The treasury will lose my future tax and pension contributions, and the NHS an experienced GP — we’re not all retiring.’
Liverpool foundation doctor 1 Latifa Patel said: ‘The pension reforms will affect junior doctors and medical students, and coupled with the increase in tuition fees and changes to NHS bursaries it only adds to [our] financial dilemmas.’
Reason for ballot
Glasgow consultant anaesthetist Crispin Best said: ‘Although we realise the country is in trouble due to the mismanagement of governmental finances over a period of years, we see no reason why we should be singled out.’
The BMA will be asking doctors, when the ballot opens on May 14, if they are willing to take action for one or more 24-hour periods, during which they would provide only urgent or emergency care.
Dr Robertson added: ‘The unfairness of all of these changes to a pension scheme that is already sustainable is the reason we’re balloting doctors on industrial action.’
He urged all doctors to find out more.
Figures from the BMA pensions department show that a doctor earning £120,000 a year is £144 worse off in their April net pay as their pension contribution rises to 10.9 per cent of pay or £1,090 per month, a rise of 2.4 per cent on last year
Those on £75,000 are £90 worse off as their contributions also rise by 2.4 per cent to 9.9 per cent or £619 a month.
Doctors on £45,000 are £34 worse off as their contributions rise to £300 a month or eight per cent of their pay from 6.5 per cent.
Published with permission from BMA News.