Pension tax driving doctors to early retirement

Author: Jo Carlowe

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A new survey by the Royal College of Physicians reveals the pension tax is driving many doctors to an early retirement.

The survey of doctors by the Royal College of Pysicians (RCP), the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow has revealed that almost half (45%) have decided to retire at a younger age than previously planned, with 86% of them citing pension concerns as one of their reasons for this decision.

The survey of 2,800 doctors nearing retiring age, showed that in the last two years, 38% of clinicians aged 50 to 65 report having had an annual pension allowance tax charge due to exceeding their pension threshold.

As a consequence:

  • 62% of senior clinicians said that they avoided extra paid work (such as waiting list initiatives or covering for colleagues)
  • 25% have reduced the number of programmed activities they work
  • 22% have reported having stepped down from a leadership or other role with extra remuneration

The survey follows a similar poll, published yesterday, in which the Royal College of Surgeons of England revealed that over half of consultant surgeons were considering early retirement due to the pensions tax situation. 

Responding to this latest survey from the RCP, Dr Helen Fidler, British Medical Association (BMA) consultants committee deputy chair and consultant gastroenterologist, said: “Another day and another stark warning from senior doctors over the damaging effects of pension rules. Yesterday it was surgeons and today this survey from the Royal College of Physicians lays bare the impact that these absurd regulations are having on the NHS and the patients we treat.

“The BMA has been clear that the only way to stop doctors of all kinds reluctantly reducing hours or from retiring early is to scrap the perverse rules and disastrous changes to pension tax that penalise them for wanting to do extra work to support the NHS and care for their patients.

“As winter approaches this becomes even more urgent. We simply cannot afford to lose any more of our most experienced doctors’ expertise.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson told OnMedica: “We are determined to make it easier for senior clinicians to manage their pensions so they can continue to carry out life-saving work for patients.

“NHS trusts have recently been issued with guidance allowing them to provide more flexibilities this tax year, including offering extra support and reimbursing staff who opt-out of their pension scheme.

“HM Treasury are also reviewing how the tapered annual allowance supports the delivery of public services such as the NHS.” 



Editorial team, Wilmington Healthcare

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