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A good deal on pensions ­ or not?

From Dr John Chisholm

Joint deputy chair

BMA pensions committee

It is misleading to state that GPs will pay more 'to earn the same pension' under current proposals (News, 3 August).

When this review started there was a real threat that normal pensionable age was going to be increased to 65, and that the value of doctors' pensions would be reduced. The BMA, together with the other health unions, fought successfully against this, and achieved more.

GP pensions are worth more than the 20 per cent currently paid for them and the proposed revised rates partly address this anomaly. Under the proposed changes, contribution rates would still qualify for tax relief on the additional amounts. This reduces the extra amount in the example given to £1,500 per year ­ not £2,500 as stated.

And we must remember that one of the drivers of this review ­ the fact that people are living longer ­ means that GPs will, on average, receive their pensions for longer.

The proposal to realign the dynamising factor for GP pensions with the retail price index of 1.5 per cent should also be seen in context. This is not a cap, but the rate will remain stable and predictable and may be better than one based on the profession's profit changes in the future.

Finally, the proposals remove the current scheme cap on pensionable pay, allowing all of a GP's pensionable profits to be pensioned in the NHS scheme. As more and more GPs would have been affected, we see it as another significant improvement in benefits.

This is a good deal for GPs ­ and no one could realistically have expected it to come

for free.

· From Dr Malcolm Flasz

Hornchurch, Essex

Am I correct in thinking that the pension negotiation has resulted in a flawed (as well as expensive) outcome? A GP earning £100,001 will pay £1,000 a year more than one earning £99,999.

Have the clever people who represent us not realised that the contribution would have to be step-wise? What price a good, creative accountant?

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