Pensions tax issues leading to longer NHS waiting lists

Henrietta Strickland
July 10, 2019

NHS Providers said it was hearing from hospital trusts whose consultants and senior managers are declining shifts, which is having a massive impact on patient care.

The changes in pension taxation mean picking up extra shifts are no longer worth their while.

In June, health secretary Matt Hancock announced a review of the pension changes in the Interim NHS People Plan to give doctors more flexibility on their contributions.

There has been a 50% increase in the last three months at NHS facilities in some parts of the countries, according to data seen by The Telegraph.

NHS pensions changes in 2016 have impacted upon those earning more than £110,000 a year due to the introduction of a tapered annual allowance.

A senior anaesthetist at one hospital worked 27 Saturdays a year ago to reduce waiting times but now can not afford to, the organisation said.

"This option will not only result in doctors receiving a lower pension, but it also does not remove the perverse incentive for doctors to reduce the work they do for the NHS", Nagpaul said.

The warning comes as it was reported hospitals are cancelling operations because consultant doctors have started working to rule.

As a result, medics are turning down more hours because they will not financially benefit from their hard work.

But now they are asking, what's the point?

NHS providers added that an urgent solution was the need of the hour, while claiming that the government was working slowly towards it.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "Trust leaders report that, over the last month, they have had significant numbers of key clinical and managerial staff saying they can no longer afford to work extra shifts and weekends because of the financial penalties involved in doing so, due to the way that the pension taxation rules now work".

Taking a cue from various NHS hospital staffers, pension problems was a major cause to the issue.

Trust leaders are saying the impact is growing rapidly.

Mr Hopson said trusts said the issue was contributing to poor A&E performance, which was much worse than expected in April and May.

Data for April showed that the number of patients waiting more than the target 18 weeks for an operation increased 3% on the previous month, and 16% on the same month a year ago to 579,403, the largest number ever recorded.

The percentage of patients treated within 18 weeks is the lowest since current records began at 86.5%, and the total waiting list for operations was almost 4.3 million.

The Department of Health said it wanted to make pensions more flexible, so senior doctors would be able to reduce their contributions and avoid breaching the allowance.

"We were waiting to see if the proposal would work, and it clearly hasn't", Hopson said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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