Intended for healthcare professionals

  1. Antony R Goldstone, clinical director1,
  2. David Bailey, GP partner2
  1. 1Castle Hill Hospital, Cottingham, East Yorkshire, UK
  2. 2Caerphilly, UK
  1. Correspondence to: T Goldstone tony.goldstone{at}
    Follow Tony on Twitter @goldstone_tony

Government must act decisively to avert potentially catastrophic workforce losses

The scale of the NHS pension crisis is becoming clear. Surveys by the BMA,1 the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association,2 and NHS Employers3 indicate that around half of senior doctors in all specialties are planning to stop doing overtime, reduce sessions, or retire early because of punitive changes to the way their pensions are taxed, most notably the annual allowance and tapered annual allowance.

This comes at the worst possible time for the NHS, with hospital consultants, staff and associate specialists, and general practitioners all facing critical workforce shortages. We have seen no evidence that this catastrophic effect on the public sector workforce was in any way anticipated when these tax changes were designed. Now, waiting times in both secondary and primary care are at unprecedented levels, prompting Boris Johnson, the UK’s new prime minister, to prioritise their reduction.4

The secretary of state for health and social care, Matt Hancock, belatedly announced a four month consultation in July,5 hailing “pension flexibility” as the solution. Central to this strategy was a “50:50” solution whereby half a pension is accrued in exchange …

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