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New PM must focus on pensions and recruitment, say BMA and RCGP

The RCGP and BMA have written to new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to urge him to take action on pensions and GP recruitment. 

The BMA warned the ’punitive’ pension taxation was the greatest threat to the medical workforce in a letter from BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, while the RCGP called for Mr Johnson to deliver previous Government promises including the recruitment of an extra 5,000 GPs. 

It follows Mr Johnson’s pledge to reduce GP waiting times in his first speech as Prime Minister. 

Dr Nagpaul said in his letter that the ‘greatest immediate threat’ to the medical profession, and consequently to patient services, is the ’punitive’ taxation rules, and advised the Treasury to take action on the ’cumulative impact’ of the pensions policies.

He also called on the Prime Minister and new chancellor Sajid Javid to meet with the BMA ’as a matter of urgency’ to discuss solutions the union has repeatedly proposed in the past.

He said: ’During the leadership campaign, we welcomed your commitment to ‘fix’ the lifetime allowance – but we also pointed out that the problems faced are exacerbated further by the tapered annual allowance.

’Without action by the Treasury to address the cumulative impact of these policies, doctors will have no choice but to reduce the amount of work they do for the NHS, or leave it entirely, to avoid unexpected bills that can be four, five, or even six figures in some cases.’

Dr Nagpaul also cited the BMA’s survey outlining half of doctors are fearful of being blamed for making a medical error because of the systemic pressures the profession faces.

RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard called on Mr Johnson to deliver the Government’s promise of recruiting 5,000 GPs and retaining more GPs.

She said: ’General practice is the first point of contact with our health service for over a million of patients every day – in turn alleviating pressures across the rest of the NHS – but it is under immense strain. We are at least 6,000 GPs short in England.’

Both letters also addressed the dangers of a no-deal Brexit. 

Professor Stokes-Lampard urged the Prime Minister to avoid the potential disruption to the sustainability of the NHS caused by accepting a no-deal Brexit.

In her letter, she said: ‘We cannot risk the potential disruption caused by a no-deal Brexit. This could hamper the recruitment and retention of vitally needed NHS staff, and lead to uncertainty over the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, which enable us to recruit doctors from the EEA.’

Dr Nagpaul added the BMA was ‘alarmed’ at the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and urged Mr Johnson to take ‘every possible step’ to avoid it.

This comes as a recent Pulse investigation found over half of GPs are planning to stop practising before retirement age because of issues regarding pensions.