Doctors want to meet with Chancellor Sajid Javid to thrash out a deal to scrap pension rules that have triggered a staffing crisis in the National Health Service.
The British Medical Association, the collective voice for consultants in the NHS, has demanded taper rules and the annual allowance should be abolished for doctors.
Their concern is anyone who breaks the rules is penalised with a tax penalty, but because pension contributions for doctors are written into their contracts, they have no option than to pay the fines.
To solve the problem, many have refused to work overtime, which reduces their pay and pension contributions.
The downside is the impasse has led to longer waiting lists for patients.
Prime Minister’s election pledge
The BMA wants talks ‘at the earliest opportunity’ but the Chancellor has not responded.
“We need action. The Chancellor must immediately scrap the damaging annual allowance and tapered annual allowance in defined benefit pension schemes to ensure that no doctor is penalised for going above and beyond for their patients,” a BMA spokesperson said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already promised to ‘fix’ the tapered annual allowance while campaigning for re-election.
A manifesto promise pledges to hold an urgent review of taper rules within the first 30 days of winning the election, and to work with the BMA and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to find a new solution.
How the tapered annual allowance works
The taper annual allowance rules apply to doctors and other high earners with annual incomes of more than £150,000 a year. Under the rules, every £2 earned over that amount, reduces the annual pension contribution allowance of £40,000 by £1 until a minimum of £10,000.
Breaking the rule by contributing too much to a pension results in tax penalties, but doctors often do not know until after the tax year end if they contributed too much.
The BMA is calling for an overhaul of the NHS pension system rather than tinkering, claiming a third of consultants – around 30,000 doctors – paid tax penalties last year.
The NHS is the world’s fifth largest employer with 1.5 million staff, behind organisations like the US Defence Department, Walmart and McDonald’s.