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£230,000 ‘assault’ on GP pensions revealed

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The Government's ‘assault' on NHS pensions will see GPs paying over £200,000 extra in pension contributions for a worse retirement fund, new BMA research reveals.

The BMA forecasts that ‘unjustifiable' Government plans to reform NHS pensions will see GPs hit with demands for an extra £230,000 in pension contributions over their career. The research also reveals that a ‘new look' pensions scheme based on Lord Hutton's recommendations for pension reforms – expected to form the basis of a set of detailed Government pension reforms in Autumn - will mean a GP retiring at 60 will receive a pension £20,000 lower than current levels.

The fresh double blow to GP pension pots comes weeks after Pulse exclusively revealed BMA forecasts showed that NHS pension reforms forced through by the Government earlier this year are already costing GPs up to £125,000 each over the course of their lifetimes. The shift from use of the retail price index to the lower consumer price index to uplift NHS pensions, introduced in April, means GPs stand to lose £124,500 by the time they reach 85.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chair of the BMA council, said:‘There are unjustifiable changes to the financially healthy pension scheme which has only recently been thoroughly overhauled.'

‘This isn't about affordability, it's about the Treasury looking for yet another quick hit from public sector workers. Doctors pursuing a career as a consultant or GP will have to pay significantly higher contributions in return for a much reduced pension at retirement.'

Earlier this month, in an exclusive interview with Pulse, Dr Andrew Dearden, chair of the BMA's pensions committee and a GP in Cardiff, attacked the Government for refusing to negotiate on the hike in GP contributions.

At the time Dr Dearden called on every GP to use a DH consultation on pension contributions to vent their anger about the coalition's pensions plans. The DH consultation is technically restricted to discussions about how the pensions hike should be implemented, but the BMA is urging doctors to ignore the consultation boundaries.

Today Dr Meldrum repeated the call for GPs to join the pensions fight, He said: ‘Doctors need to be aware of the scale of the assault on their pensions. We'd encourage anyone with concerns about these changes to express their views directly to the DH through its consultation.'

GP leaders in Wales and Northern Ireland have also called for greater clarity on how the changes to the NHS Pension will affect doctors in the devolved nations.

Asked whether the DH would be rejecting consultation responses from GPs who ignored the consultation boundaries and laid out all of their fears on pension reforms, a DH spokesperson said: ‘We welcome responses to the consultation.'

The spokesperson added:‘The NHS pension will remain one of the very best available, providing a guaranteed pension level for all employees - something that very few private sector employers still offer. We will also completely protect the pensions people have already earned. None of the rights people have accrued will be affected.'

‘Our proposals will protect the lowest paid in the NHS…The top earners in the NHS would be expected to contribute much more. A consultant earning £130,000, for example, would contribute £152 more a month.'

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