7 August 2019
Commenting on the government’s proposed changes to NHS pension rules, Dr Taj Hassan, President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “This is a welcome step towards changing what have at times proven to be punitive pension taxation arrangements for senior clinicians.
“While remuneration and financial packages are not within the remit of the College, it has become clear that the current pension taxation arrangements have resulted in a risk to patient safety.
“The often-impenetrable rules have meant that many doctors have effectively been paying to go to work when taking on extra shifts. Without the goodwill of doctors to take on extra work in a badly understaffed NHS, the system would fall over, and over the past few months our members have told us that they, understandably, are dialling back their number of shifts due to the current taxation rules.
“This has had a huge impact on ED staffing and put patients at risk. In our report on how the pensions issues are affecting EM, one member told us that no additional weekend shifts were being filled at all at their ED, despite a near 100% fill rate until February.
“The proposed changes to give more flexibility seem sensible and should allow clinicians to take on extra shifts without them having to worry about how much it will cost them. While this still doesn’t fix the ongoing workforce crisis, it should help in staff retention and will help improve patient care.
“We await the full details with interest, but would ask that any changes are clear, understandable and made with urgency.”