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Labour would abolish GP pension cap, says shadow health secretary

Labour would abolish GP pension cap, says shadow health secretary

Labour would abolish the cap on GP pension earnings, the shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has said.

Mr Streeting made the comments in an interview with The Telegraph last week, saying the fact that doctors are leaving early because of the lifetime allowance is ‘crazy’.

The lifetime allowance is the maximum amount you can put into a pension pot without triggering an extra tax charge. If a pension pot exceeds the allowance, it is then taxed heavily when you retire.

He said: ‘I’m not pretending that doing away with the cap is a particularly progressive move. But it is one that sees patients seen faster and will inevitably save lives. I’m just being hard-headed and pragmatic about this.’

New Prime Minister Liz Truss has pledged to relax GP pension tax charges in a bid to stem the exodus of doctors from the NHS, but it remains unclear whether the lifetime allowance tax charges could be abolished altogether.

Mr Streeting also said that a potential Labour Government ‘might need to look at financial incentives’ to get GPs to work in deprived areas.

And he added that ‘not enough [money] is spent in primary care’ while ‘too much’ is spent in hospitals.

He told The Telegraph: ‘If we shifted that balance over time, patients would get a better experience, hospitals would face less pressure. We would save money.

‘Intervening early prevents conditions which might cost hundreds of pounds to address becoming problems which cost tens, if not hundreds, of thousands to treat.’

But he said that further investment in the NHS would come with reform and a ‘restoration of national performance standards’.

‘There’s no doubt in my mind – and this is why Liz Truss is being dishonest with the public – that there isn’t a fix to the NHS crisis that doesn’t involve more investment,’ he said. 

He added: ‘This is a bit more difficult for a Labour audience to hear, there isn’t a fix for the NHS in the long term that can involve huge amounts of extra money every year. Because at that point, the NHS begins to look unsustainable. We can’t just keep on pouring in more money.’

Mr Streeting also said:

  • He would not make patients pay for GP appointments, as he is ‘totally opposed to an extension of any kind of user charging in the NHS’
  • ‘Everyone who wants to see a GP face to face should be able to’, not just those who need to
  • The Conservatives are ‘planning to lose the next general election’, because they have capped the number of medical students and therefore the number of doctors who will qualify in roughly six years – at the same time a potential Labour Government would be campaigning for re-election
  • He would use ‘private sector capacity to bring NHS waiting lists down’, despite this not being a ‘comfortable position’ for a Labour MP
  • He would bring back the ‘jabs army’ to do flu, monkeypox and polio vaccinations as well as Covid in the short term

It comes as NHS England documents in May revealed that a ‘long-term NHS vaccination service’ is already under development and GPs were last month invited to share their views on plans for a new national vaccination strategy.

Mr Streeting said he would reveal more about his plans for the NHS in his speech for Labour’s party conference later this month.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Dave Haddock 15 September, 2022 9:32 pm

No doubt Labour Party Members will make reducing the tax burden on those earning in the top 1% an urgent priority.

Gareth Evans 16 September, 2022 9:40 am

But….it’s the annual allowance that catches people out and lands them with unexpected tax bills (and acts as a incentive to work fewer hours), not the lifetime allowance.