Government seeking to end NHS pensions row
The government is set to change pensions rules as it aims to end a row with NHS doctors.
Doctors have recently been refusing overtime shifts after being hit with ‘punitive tax bills’ following changes to the amount that can be accrued tax-free. In a joint statement from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Treasury, ministers said that new rules would allow NHS employees to scale down their pension contributions in order to avoid breaching the annual tax-free allowance. The annual allowance was reduced from £255,000 a year in 2010/11 to £40,000 from 2014/15 onwards.
The pensions row has been linked to a rise in waiting times for routine surgery caused by doctors’ refusal to work beyond normal hours.
Commenting on the issue, Chancellor Sajid Javid said: ‘The government is committed to ensuring that British people see a real difference in public services, getting quicker GP appointments and a reduction in waiting times.
‘Critical to that is introducing flexibility into the system so that our hospitals have the staff they need to deliver high-quality patient care, which is why we’ve listened to concerns and will be reviewing the operation of the tapered annual allowance.’
The government intends to publish a consultation on the matter shortly, with a view to introducing the changes from April. To help resolve the problem in the short-term, the government has also promised to allow doctors to opt out from the pension scheme for this financial year.