By Lilian Anekwe
Exclusive: NHS Pensions has seen a dramatic rise in the number of GPs requesting retirement quotations amid mounting fears over the Hutton report's call for GPs to work longer and pay increased pension contributions.
Following the publication of Lord Hutton's report, there was a 87% year-on-year increase in GPs requesting retirement estimates in April, according to figures from NHS Pensions.
Enquiries to the BMA's pensions department have also rocketed by 1,000% in the first quarter of this year compared with last year.
In March, the Hutton report recommended a rise in the GP retirement age eventually to 68, and an increase in pension contributions.
The health bill has also created uncertainties over the future of NHS pensions, while an NHS Pensions spokesperson said the reduced annual allowance measure introduced in last year's Budget had also prompted many queries.
Medical accountants have reported being inundated with questions from worried GPs. Faye Armstrong, a partner at Dodd and Co, said: 'People are definitely thinking more about taking 24-hour retirement. It's what everybody wants to talk to us about at meetings.'
Rosemary Smith, of RS Medical Accountancy, said she had already been approached about 24-hour retirement by several clients.
'GPs have seen the writing on the wall, and they're all taking 24-hour retirement where they can. Everyone's panicking because they're not sure where things are going to go,' she said.
Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, said he was among those who had contacted NHS Pensions.
'I'm 55 and I have started to think about my mortality and the mortality of my pensions. I think it is time for people to look into this, and I feel there will be an awful lot of people who will and who will decide that it's best to be off.'Dr Peter Swinyard Click here to sign our petition No to 65 NHS pension calculators