Hutton report 'set to recommend GPs work to 65'
By Gareth Iacobucci
Controversial proposals to force GPs to work until they are 65 are set to be formally unveiled this week when the Government's long-awaited report on public sector pensions is published, according to reports.
It is believed the report by ex-Labour peer Lord Hutton will recommend a raft of changes designed to streamline lucrative public sector pensions as ministers strive to save millions from the profession's retirement pot.
The Times has reported that Lord Hutton is set to recommend that public sector staff – including GPs on NHS pensions, the BMA confirmed – work until 65 rather than retire at 60.
Under the proposals, GPs would retain any benefits accrued under the scheme until 2014 - the predicted date the changes are set to take effect.
The changes are believed not to be retrospective, but from 2014 onwards, any future pensions rights could not be claimed until GPs are 65.
It comes after Pulse exclusively revealed in January that the Department of Health had demanded GPs agreed to a rise in their retirement age from 60 to 65 as they commenced talks with the BMA.
The Daily Telegraph also reports that Lord Hutton's proposals are also set to pave the way for GPs and other public sector workers to make a predicted 3% increase to their pension contributions from 2014.
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to welcome Lord Hutton's proposals, but may delay announcing legislation to implement changes until after the Budget, which takes place later this month.
A BMA spokesperson said they expected the changes – which are thought to be being tabled to begin in 2014 – to apply to NHS pensions, and a DH spokesperson refused to comment on the reports, but confirmed Lord Hutton's report will include changes to NHS pensions.
More than 800 GPs have signed Pulse's online petition, calling on the Government to drop any plans to compulsorily increase GPs' retirement age from 60 to 65, and fully consult the profession over any attempt to make savings from any part of the NHS pension.
Dr Diana Smallwood, a GP in Barnsley, signed the Pulse petition, which will be presented to the Department of Health and Treasury to put pressure on negotiations.
She said: ‘I have put in countless extra hours over my career but more than anything it is the principle of the thing. The BMA must stand firm on pensions and the destruction of the NHS.'
The BMA has vowed to fight any plans to raise the retirement age, warning they could prompt an ‘exodus' of GPs in their pensions.
Dr Andrew Dearden, chair of the BMA pensions committee, said: ‘We reject the suggestion that the current method by which public sector pension schemes are valued should change.'
The plans were also attacked by the trade union Unite, which warned Lord Hutton's recommendations could be hijacked by ministers determined to slash pensions.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: ‘The fear is that Lord Hutton's report will be cherry-picked by ministers for those recommendations that dovetail with their menu of radical measures.'
NHS pensions are set to be reduced as part of a Government review. Click here to sign our petition 'No to 65'.