The pension crisis in the healthcare sector continues to rattle on as the government have made promises of compensation, but doctors are not very trusting of these promises – and with good reason.
The government has become so untrustworthy in the eyes of healthcare professionals, that the UK’s main doctor’s union is seeking a legal guarantee from the National Health Service that will essentially cover pension tax bills, as professionals on the front line of the healthcare services are sceptical about the government’s plan to try to convince doctors, nurses and surgeons to work extra shifts to prevent a winter healthcare crisis.
Last week, NHS England offered to cover pension tax charges, in a bid to get more healthcare professionals back into work to cover shifts and take the mounting pressure off the NHS during winter months. Concerns over six figure tax penalties on pensions have forced doctors and surgeons to reduce hours to protect their earnings, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for an understaffed and underfunded NHS.
The growing concerns regarding the pension tax has presented a huge knock to the NHS, with tens of thousands of healthcare professionals halving their hours. Most doctors are turning down extra shifts that are needed to be covered out of fear that they will overstep the annual retirement savings limit.
The NHS and government had hoped that an intervention in time for the winter demand in healthcare that has already seen emergency care targets missed, including cancer treatment and critical surgery. There are around 4 million people in the UK waiting for routine surgeries.
The British Medical Association have warned that it’s members were very worried about signing up to the plan, and wanted some advanced reassurance that they will be protected from huge amounts of earnings being taxed.
The BMA told the Financial Times;
“The proposed arrangements are extremely complicated with payments potentially being made by employers decades in advance,” said Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA pensions committee.
“The BMA is seeking assurances that these payments will be guaranteed even if a doctor’s current employer or even NHS England were to not exist in their current form at such a time.”