I do not understand the defeatist attitude that seems to pervade the BMA negotiations over the proposed rise in pensions.
The Government has presented us with a golden opportunity.
The decision by the previous government to devolve the employer’s contribution to GPs was a mistake, and now we can make the politicians pay for it.
I am not sure why it was done – perhaps to inflate our salaries in the eyes of the press – but it was an error, for it allows us as individuals to have control of our pension contributions.
While the NHS pension represented good value it made sense to stay in the scheme, but with the proposed rise in contributions taking 28.5% of our profits there is not much point any more, as even with the recent collapse in annuities the private sector will represent better value for money.
GPs’ annual pension contributions account for over £1bn – money used by the Government on public spending.
If we stop contributing, this leaves a big hole in its plans. If we withdraw our accumulated pension funds, the size of the hole increases to £20-30bn.
The problem is where to invest it, and this is where the BMA comes in.
A BMA-administered pension fund of this size would be a major player in the financial markets.
The value of our pension is currently tied to the fortunes of the Government, but a pension fund not bound by this could invest in gilts from any country it chose.
The other advantage is that contributions could be tailored to individual circumstances rather than the fixed rate that now prevails in the scheme.
My advice would be for GPs to leave all existing contributions in the NHS scheme as it still currently represents good value and collect your current pension and lump sum when you retire, but to transfer future contributions to a different scheme that I feel should be administered by the BMA.
If the Treasury believes we are serious about this, I have no doubt it will back down from its current hawkish stance.
Politicians are, at heart, schoolyard bullies – if you stand up to them, they will give way.
From Dr Geoff Davies