Intended for healthcare professionals


Pensions crisis: patient care is being affected, doctors warn

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 26 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4907
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Doctors have raised concerns that an increasing reliance on outsourcing of radiology work to private companies because of the pensions crisis is putting patients at risk.

In examples given to the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) and seen by The BMJ, consultants reported that their hospitals are outsourcing more imaging checks, which some said were “worse quality” meaning they have to be re-reviewed by consultants, creating even more work.

The pensions row is the result of an inflexible pension scheme, which means that the highest earning consultants contribute 14.5% of their pensionable pay each month—something they cannot control. They then face large tax bills because they end up exceeding the pensions allowance. Many consultants have cut their clinical hours or plan early retirement as a result.

Health secretary Matt Hancock stepped in last month, urging doctors not to take early retirement because of tax charges and promising to consult with the profession and the treasury to fix this “very serious” problem by the start of the next financial year.1

The profession has also been offered a plan that would let them halve their pension contributions to avoid big tax bills, however this …

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