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GPs go forth

This is not a pensions ‘row’

Editor’s blog

This morning, according to the BBC, ministers have reacted to the pensions ‘row’ with new plans to make NHS pensions more flexible.

But the Government has for a while acknowledged that the current situation is ridiculous. Under current rules, some doctors are losing money in the immediate time by working, with the only benefit being an abstract increase in their pensions decades later.

This is not a case of greedy doctors with their huge pensions. GPs aren’t proactively looking to maximise their stocks and shares in a bid to increase their wealth. The majority of GPs affected are simply doing their work and finding themselves trapped towards the end of the year, because of the prospect of a whopping tax bill they couldn’t have planned for.

The Government’s changes might help, but the time has come to ask whether we should abolish taxes on any pensions earnings altogether

From the general public’s point of view, there is no doubt that the NHS pension is good in comparison with private sector pensions. But this kind of pension used to be standard. The problem has come through the private sector reducing their employees’ benefits. The fact that the NHS has retained the benefits it promised should not see doctors punished.

It would be politically dangerous to cut taxes for higher earners – which doctors are – in the current environment. But the current rules represent an immediate tax on future earnings – and on those who plan sensibly. The Government’s changes might help, but the time has come to ask whether we should abolish taxes on any pensions earnings altogether.

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at

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Readers' comments (4)

  • don't any of you have boats to paint, gardens to dig, houses to maintain, cars to fix etc etc etc ? surely you have other things to do besides sitting in surgery ? if so, reduce your hours - and your tax bill - by taking time out and doing them ! explain to patients the ridiculous situation in which YOU HAVE BEEN PLACED - IT IS NOT YOUR DOING AT ALL. if lots of you do it, and joe public is inconvenienced, and a/e gets overwhelmed IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. those at the top will soon get the message. they will certainly NOT get the message (or they will not act on it) if our leaders send hand wringing letters to politicians explaining what "might happen" if they don't address the problem THEY have created!
    for the sake of clarity i have to admit this does not affect me - i am 69, have taken my pension, and now work two days a week as a locum.

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  • @David Jenkins
    Don't worry- its already happening. Thats why the Govt have started shiting themselves.

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  • Indeed Angus

    It won't be the BMA but the Boards who have put a rocket up the Government with hard facts and Doomsday projections.

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  • And it won't be any brighter under a different government. I think we are entering a economic era were high earners will be paying increased taxes. Labour have planned for a top tier of income tax at £70k, meaning it will be pointless working the extra hours for less than 30% take home pay.

    Most clinicians will go part time rapidly and medical education will not be able to churn out enough graduates at the required rate. It will be difficult for the NHS to weather this perfect storm.

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