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GPs go forth

GP pension tax crisis causes closure of out-of-hours services

Changes to GP pensions have caused the largest health board in Scotland to temporarily close five out-of-hours centres in their area.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) stated they have experienced ‘significant challenges’ as national changes to pensions have left fewer GPs available to work within their out-of-hours services.

High earning medical staff are being forced to reduce shifts to avoid high tax bills on their pension contributions. In January the BMA warned that doctors would continue to reduce their shifts in order to avoid being hit with significant charges.

NHSGGC stated on its website: ‘The changes come following significant challenges caused by national changes to pensions, in addition to local operational issues which have left fewer GPs available to work within out of hours.’

To mitigate against inconsistent and unsustainable care, NHSGGC reported they will concentrate their out-of-hours services into four core centres and suspend services at another five centres.

Dr Kerri Neylon, primary care lead GP at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: ‘Temporary consolidation of services is the only option which will enable us to continue providing this crucial service in the immediate future.

'We are absolutely committed to delivering a long-term sustainable, safe and reliable out-of-hours service to patients across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.’

Dr Andrew Buist, chair of the BMA's Scottish GP Committee, said: ‘More GPs to staff out of hours is obviously a crucial factor here, but there is no doubt a range of complex issues in play, including poor work life balance. Equally – and of vital importance for out-of-hours care - pensions rules that mean unexpected and large tax bills – which are actually forcing many GPs to cut down on their working hours or even retire early, are contributing substantially to issues with out-of-hours care.

'There are undeniably some challenges to out-of-hours provision by GPs that are specific to Glasgow, but equally few parts of the country are immune to challenges and pressure on these services.’

The Government is looking into solving the crisis, after pressure from the BMA, RCGP and nine other medical bodies. The BMA confirmed it has been invited to talks with the Treasury as part of the Government review.

 

Readers' comments (14)

  • National Hopeless Service

    Good. I hope the NHS continues to implode. In many ways I hope that Coronavirus does come this way fully because it will totally expose what a broken beyond repair state the NHS is in.

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  • Not a surprise and many out of hours services throughout the country struggle to get adequate GP cover whilst full time GPs like myself who may have helped won’t even look at doing any due to the current pension issues. This has been going on for far too long and cost the NHS huge amounts of GP time.

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  • MEDIA REPORTS INDICATE THE CHANCELLOR IS ACTUALLY PLANNING TO INCREASE TAX ON PENSIONS WHICH MEANS GPs SO THE ANSWER TO A CRISIS IS TO MAKE THE CRISIS WORSE.....IS THIS A COMEDY OF ERRORS?

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  • This budget will decide if I stay a partner or retire.
    I am sure I am not the only doctor waiting for the March budget to decide what to do.
    Ultimately I have to support my family,and I cannot do this as a partner with random massive tax bills appearing that outstrip +++ my take home pay.
    It is a ridiculous situation that penalizes the most experienced and the most hard working clinicians in a fragile workforce. The latest contract has nothing in it for partners.
    What is the government trying to a achieve?

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  • Does beg the question: Do we really need an OOH GP service?
    Most other countries use A+E for urgent medical problems at night, or wait till next working day.

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  • 6.55
    Fair question, well asked.
    Collapse the OoH GP service and shift the workload to where the money has always been focused - hospitals.

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  • Speak to anyone in GG&C, it's not pension related. They've not actually formally enquired why young jobbing GPs aren't taking shifts. It's because the pay is terrible and the conditions are unsafe. They're hiding behind the pension scheme (ie. a GP led issue for being too "high earning") when actually it's that they pay ~£50/hour net to do house visits in the some of the most deprived and dangerous parts of Scotland with no back-up. A locum session can exceed £300 in hours, so why would anyone take on OOH?

    In addition they have an attitudinal issue that immediately makes any GP bristle, as they repeatedly email us telling us "our patients will thank you" for taking on OOH shifts - I don't think my patients would appreciate me turning up having worked an additional 4-12hrs the night prior to my 11 hour days.

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  • |Glasgow-gp | Salaried GP|28 Feb 2020 9:09am

    You are exactly right, of course. Remember this is Scotland, SNP run, Barnett formula et al.

    "'We are absolutely committed to delivering a long-term sustainable, safe and reliable out-of-hours service to patients across Greater Glasgow and Clyde.’"

    - So anyone questioning if it is actually needed amongst the leaders? Doesn't sound like it. Safe? The doctors and more importantly, the medical indemnifiers don't think so.

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  • Nobody will be foolish enough to take on more risks, do more work and get poorer. Yet the chancellor wants to increase tax.
    We must be the only country in the world where you get poorer working and get punished for helping.
    Where is the logic?

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  • OOH has been the 'canary in the coal mine'.

    Now its actually dying. Will NHSE take notice?

    I doubt it.

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