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Independents' Day

GPs retiring early due to pension pots limits, says NHS England official

Older GPs are looking at ’alternative options’ because of changes to the tax treatment of pensions pots, a senior NHS England official has told MPs.

NHS England’s director of commissioning Rosamond Roughton said that NHS England has commissioned a review into why older GPs are leaving the profession as part of evidence on the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC)’s review into the NHS workforce.

She said that the review is to be concluded imminently, and said that it would be made public.

But she did say that focus groups have revealed that the changes to the lifetime tax allowance on pensions - which meant that all workers in the UK would start paying tax when their pension pot exceeds £1m, as opposed to the £1.5m  previously - had led some GPs to retire early.

In the session, Ms Roughton said NHS England has ’commissioned a detailed review of all the evidence about why doctors are leaving earlier than their retirement age’ which will ‘be one of the building blocks in terms of delivering the extra 5,000 doctors in general practice, which we want to do’.

She added: ’We have run some focus groups to ask about the pension pot issue and, anecdotally, we are hearing messages about people who have reached their pension pot limit feeling that they have some alternative options.’

According to Ms Roughton, the review was to be concluded by the end of last week and eventually be made public.

She said the meta-analysis review of existing research looked at ‘all the evidence out there’, but the final report would include a section on pensions changes. 

Ms Roughton said: ’We have commissioned a review to look at all the evidence out there—all the research that has been done in this country and some international work as well,although it is less relevant in this context—that gives us information about why doctors might be leaving general practice.’

It comes as a number of changes to the NHS pension scheme come in from April which may affect GPs.

The annual allowance – the increase in value of a GP’s pension each year before more income tax is charged – will be lowered for the highest earners from April.

Previously, the threshold was £40,000 for everyone but the highest earners will soon be paying tax on any pension increases of more than £10,000.

At the same time, the lifetime allowance – the total you can build up in your pension pot without paying tax – will reduce from £1.25m to £1m, having previously been £1.8m in 2010. 

The GP retention problem

Jeremy Hunt - online

Jeremy Hunt - online

The Government has pledged that there will be 5,000 extra GPs in England in 2020 compared to 2015, but while it is also struggling with filling GP training places, retaining the existing workforce will be another key factor.

To this end, the Government included a point in its £10m 10-point plan to improve recruitment and retention that said GPs would be incentivised to delay their retirement although details of this has yet to be announced more than a year after the plan was laid out.

However, a revelation could be near as health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s package to support general practice, which was expected to be announced during this month, is to include new measures to try to improve the workforce crisis.

Meanwhile, a report into why so many GPs are retiring before the age of 50, commissioned by NHS England, recently found burnout and overwork to be two key components.



Readers' comments (30)

  • Meanwhile, the RCGP is busy working on making our lives even worse with an even more ghastly and useless Appraisal scheme.

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  • The problem with these reports is that the answer they give is not politically acceptable to Jeremy Hunt.
    The answer they are trying to generate is that all GPs are retiring because they are greedy, lazy bastards-which The Daily Mail would approve of.
    And the report conclusion will be that the way to retain them is to stop all and any pensions they have to make them work, the bastards.

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  • NHS England’s director of commissioning needs a review!! Not hard to see there would be consequences of the cap on pensions. GPs are on a career average earnings scheme too.

    The Govenment is reaping what they sow.

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  • Tally ho boys..... Hunt's hunting down any remaining older experienced GPs.......(if they have not already left!)

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  • Again...the political double speak, i.e. Publically say they are trying to retain older gps but do all they can to 'encourage' them to leave!

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  • The pension thing is an issue, the elephant in the room is its a pig of a job with long hours,little respect,and too little time with too many patients,too much beurocracy and long long hours.

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  • SOME Gps leaving early??Every single one if they have any financial nouse.I left a job I enjoyed (10 session GP)aged 60 because if I stayed longer I would breech the LTA and the government would steal a lot of my pension.
    I took sound investment advice, bought AVCs, Added Years ,the lot.I should have spent it on fast cars and loose women (even worse, I had to buy the fast car for my wife, but still no sign of loose women)
    The sky darkens with chickens coming home to roost.

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  • Why don't you save all the money spent on 'focus groups'. Every GP will give the same answers:
    1 - Pension cap
    2 - The insanity of working out if you are above or below the annual allowance
    3 - The removal of seniority payments (this is cost neutral - who in their right mind thought it was a good idea)
    4 - The increasing workload created by the workforce crisis
    5 - The ease of casual locum work, created by the workforce crisis.
    6 - The increase in pointless admin making substantive posts/ partnerships boring and .... pointless.
    7 - Constant cost cutting affecting the ability to run a practice and separately to investigate or treat patients in the best way possible.
    8 - The NHS being used as a political tool rather than a tool to improve health.
    9 - The constant increasing demand on General Practice with nobody brave enough to tell the public to take time to learn how to manage D+V/ a cold/ chicken pox by themselves.
    and most importantly....

    10 - Jeremy 'Isaac' Hunt.

    Reverse all of the above for your 10 point plan that will actually work.

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  • Rubbish, In Medway you have more than a fifth above 60 and nobody plans to retire even the record holders above 70.
    In Educational Meetings you can see 80 year olds with hearing aids and thick glasses in the front row still eager to keep the banner flying. I feel this is for want of other hobbies and engagements but it could be purely for want of more and more and more pennies.

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  • 3.35pm...perfect analysis

    I am 51. I am leaving nhs. Fed up with constantly being hit in the crown jewels by all 10 of your points. Mind you there are another 20 reasons to add to your 10.

    The NHS in GP land is dangerous for patients and doctors.

    Secondary and Primary care are collapsing now.

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