The added years pension top-up scheme is due to end and financial experts urge GPs not to miss out
GPs' last chance for added years
GPs are being warned that 2007 is their last chance to take part in the added years top-up scheme to boost their pension.
The added years scheme enables GPs to fill gaps in service by contributing an extra percentage of their pensionable earnings.
But it is being scrapped after this year, to be replaced by a new scheme allowing members to buy up to £5,000 extra pension a year at any time while they are in pensionable employment.
Martin Murray, a partner at Sandison Easson medical accountants, said GPs either buying added years or considering doing so should contact the NHS Pensions Agency urgently for advice.
Few details had been released about the replace-ment scheme, Mr Murray said, and it was too early to say
how it would compare.
Dr Peter Williams, chair of East Sussex LMC, said thousands of doctors were at risk of missing out on enhancing their pensions. He said: 'Added years appear expensive but they are better than anything else available. Nobody outside the NHS can match their value.'
Current practice is that NHS staff have to apply for added years on their birthday.
NHS Employers said GPs with birthdays early in the year had not missed out and final deadlines for added years would be publicised well in advance.
Tim Sands, pension review project manager at NHS Employers, said some GPs would probably lose out with the scrapping of the added years system.
Worst affected would be high earners, younger GPs or those who have to top up more than five years of contributions, he said.
GPs with average final pensionable pay and those who have paid for three or four added years will not be disadvantaged, he added.
'The new system will be more flexible. The added years scheme only covers earlier gaps in service – so people cannot
'They cannot enhance pension benefits in anticipation, for example, of taking a later break in service or moving to part-time work.'
Dr Andrew Dearden, chair of the BMA's pensions committee, said added years were often beneficial, but many GPs had made other financial provisions to cover the gap in their NHS
He said: 'Some have invested in private pensions, property or classic cars.'