By Ian Quinn
Plans drawn up by the Government will make GPs double the amount they pay into their pension pots within the next four years, it was revealed today.
The massive increase has been exposed after official documents from Whitehall were released to the BMA, as negotiations begin following the release of the Hutton Report.
The figures show that GPs, who only recently saw their contributions rise to as much as 8.5%, could face having to pay in contributions of up to 15.5% by 2014-15.
Pulse revealed in December that ministers were planning ‘progressive increases’ to contributions from 2012 to 2014, but the scale of the increase has stunned GP leaders.
In a statement the BMA said it had ‘seen figures from the Government’s Actuarial Department showing that the amount doctors pay into the NHS pension scheme, which already increased sharply in 2008, could almost double by 2015’.
It added: ‘They indicate that the Government’s intention to increase overall contributions into the NHS scheme by 3% would hit doctors particularly hard. Those currently paying 7.5% or 8.5% could see their contributions increase to 13% or 15.5% by 2014-5.’
In a letter to Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum called for ‘urgent talks’ over the plans and also proposals to make doctors work until 68.
He said: ‘Doctors are likely to be particularly badly affected, with a threat for many of seeing their contributions double, possibly for a poorer pension, and having worked an extra eight years. This cannot be justified given that the NHS pension scheme underwent a major overhaul only three years ago, and is in very good financial health.
‘An increase to the retirement age for NHS staff would be unacceptable. Doctors in their late twenties who had expected to retire at 60 could now have to work to the state retirement age of 68. Such a sudden leap is particularly unfair given that NHS staff signed up to a significantly revised pension scheme only three years ago.’
Dr Andrew Dearden, chair of the BMA’s Pensions Committee, added: ‘It should be remembered that following a major overhaul in 2008, the NHS scheme is appropriate, fair to both staff and taxpayers, and already subject to rigorous governance and safeguards. A cost-sharing scheme protects the taxpayer from future cost increases, and the contributions paid by members currently provide a surplus to the Treasury.’
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