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Contract pension problems ahead

I have been in contact with my PCT and LMC regarding pension arrangements and problems I foresee under the new contract. Two months on I have received no satisfactory answers. I feel the questions that have been raised about cost of accountants are only the tip of the iceberg.

There is no doubt we are going to have to pay our accountants extra for providing a second set of accounts relating to NHS profits. Unfortunately there is no guidance regarding what element of expenses should be considered to be NHS expenses and what element of our expenses can be classed as those resulting from our private work. Without such guidance I cannot see how our accountants will be able to function.

Furthermore this system calls for the keeping of what would appear to be two sets of accounts. I would be very interested to hear what the reaction of the Inland Revenue would be should the wrong accounts be sent to them!

I would also be interested to hear how the Pensions Agency intends to calculate and pay GPs' pensions at the time of their retirement. My estimate is that it will be some 15 months after retirement before an accurate figure can be arrived at. Assuming a retirement date in May it will in fact not be possible to assess one's share of overall profits until the following April and indeed the standard for our accountant is that these figures are not finalised until June.

These figures will then have to be submitted from the NHS not just from our practice but from all practices so the previous year's dynamising factor can be arrived at. I think it would be optimistic to say this would be achieved in anything less than three months, taking us to September.

I am interested to know how pensions will be paid until that time; presumably they will have to be estimated. If the estimate is not correct, will interest be either paid or payable on the difference?

Dr RD Hartley

Chorley, Lancashire

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