Giving doctors a break

NHS choice

“82% of consultants say they are are or are planning  cutting down on work” – Dr Tony Goldstone

You can listen here to Dr Goldstone explain the issues facing doctors who find themselves on the cliff edge of taxation and all too often trigger unnecessary bills – ensnared by the complications of the annual allowance taper.

His comments on some doctors facing tax bills of up to £80,000 and having to re-mortgage to pay them have fallen on the incredulous ears of pension experts.

Liz Truss speaking in parliament (see video below) was “in no doubt that the pension taxation system is too complicated”. But Doctors , patients and the NHS have not got time to go through the series of consultations that would lead to a permanent solution.

It really doesn’t matter how the big bill is explained, the matter has now reached that point where the BBC, Sky News, the Guardian and the FT all ran the same story on the same day. In a world where the story is in the sentiment, the sentiment is clearly on the side of the doctors.

One of the many compensations for spending three days on an NHS ward was that I met quite a few consultants who wanted to have a chat about their affairs.

The consensus view was that no matter how much doctors cared for their patients, they cared for their families and their private time as well. The economic interest of the medical profession is not served by working for nothing, The tax-rules are wrong and the taper is causing the problem- not the doctors.

A failure of taxation policy which must now be admitted.

Whatever our feelings about high earning doctors (and I am not one to begrudge doctors high earnings), we cannot call what they are doing “industrial action”. It is “inaction” – it is not industrial – it is “social” behaviour. Doctor’s are choosing to spend their time differently to the way they were because they are so discouraged to work weekends/

As Prospect point out – this is not an affordability issue for Government

The matter was debated in parliament (to know great effect by the look of this video) The question is tabled at 16.22

Which leads to three questions

  1. When will the Government sort this out?
  2. If they sort out the doctors, why not those on low earnings who don’t get promised pension savings incentives?
  3. And when will they do something about the 40% of potential claimants not getting their pension credits?

We will soon have a new DWP, Treasury and DHSC team

Let’s hope that a new Government will do more than wring its hands over Brexit and start governing in Britain again.

The lack of action on these pensions issues over the past few years has been scandalous.

A new Chancellor and Secretaries of State at DWP and the Department of Health have an immediate agenda , to cut hospital waiting lists, make pension saving worthwhile for low-earners and to alleviate poverty for those in later years.

The answers to these issues may require a redistribution of pension tax-relief (as proposed in 2015). The ideas under consideration then should be picked up, dusted down and implemented without more ado.

This is clearly now a political issue.

But can our politicians get their heads around the problems they created?



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in advice gap, age wage, pensions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Giving doctors a break

  1. While it’s easy to blame Government for not understanding the problem with the annual allowance, I still prefer to view this in practice as another example of HR (in the NHS) lacking empathy, failing to address the issue when it first arose in 2015. HR and/or pensions managers in the private sector were on to this a lot sooner and came up with workarounds like non-pensionable allowances or contribution caps.

  2. henry tapper says:

    Good points Derek – I fear the 50:50 initiative is too little too late.

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