Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors who leave NHS pension scheme should receive employer contributions, says BMA

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 29 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j3156
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

Doctors who leave the NHS pension scheme should be refunded any future contributions from their employer, the BMA has said.

Delegates at the BMA’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth on 28 June voted in favour of a motion which said that doctors who are “forced to withdraw from the NHS pension scheme on breaching their lifetime allowance should be refunded future NHS employer contributions.”

The lifetime allowance is the maximum amount of pension savings a doctor can have without incurring a tax charge. In 2016-17 the allowance was £1m.

Proposing the motion, Selwyn D’Costa, a paediatric consultant, said that by the time consultants were 55 they were likely to have breached the lifetime allowance.

He said, “If you breach your lifetime allowance you can either stay in the system and have a 55% tax on your overall savings above the breach or you will get out of the [pension] system. If you get out of the system and continue to work your employer will save 15% [in employer contributions].

“This 15% is our right, and what I ask our negotiators to do is, if for any reason we have to opt out of the pension scheme . . . then that 15% employer contribution should be returned to the employee.”

Supporting the motion, Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said that the BMA had managed to support a number of hospital doctors who had opted out of the NHS pension scheme to share the employer contribution with their employer.

“I’ve heard of typical deals where somebody says [to their employer], ‘If I opt out [of the pension scheme], then I’ll keep 7% [of the employer contributions] and you keep 7%’—that sort of thing has been done informally, but it is not something to which people are entitled.”

He added, “It is something that we are currently pursuing through negotiations on the consultant contract, and as such I would say to you that I would welcome this being passed, as it would give us the policy backing to continue those negotiations.”

Delegates at the conference also passed a motion calling on the BMA to conduct a full inquiry into delays in doctors receiving their pension lump sum and regular pension payments.

It also called on the BMA to ensure that doctors were awarded full financial compensation for any loss as a result of any delay and to ensure that the NHS pensions agency paid interest on delayed pension lump sums.