NHS pension reforms 'rushed and unfair', warns BMA

By Nick Bostock, 20 February 2013

'Rushed' plans to make practices pay locum superannuation could jeopardise GP commissioning and pension contribution hikes of up to 142% are 'completely unjustified', the BMA has warned.

BMA: anger over pension changes

BMA: anger over pension changes

In a response to draft changes to NHS pensions regulations, the BMA said plans to make practices responsible for paying locum superannuation had been ‘rushed, with little regard shown for the security of pension contributions of locum doctors’.

BMA leaders also reiterated their ‘disappointment’ that the government has ‘gone back on’ 2008 pension reforms ‘that were already yielding large savings' worth up to £67bn to taxpayers by 2060. Under current plans, NHS staff earning more than £110,000 a year will see pension contributions rise 142% between 2007/8 and 2014/15 while their benefits are cut, the BMA warned.

Under DH proposals, the cost of employers’ superannuation for locums – currently paid directly by primary care organisations – would be transferred into practices’ global sum payments in England and Wales.

Practices would then be responsible for making employers’ superannuation contributions for any locums they employ.

But the BMA has called for a one-year delay in implementing the changes to assess how practices will be affected.

If the plans go ahead, it is vital the money is added to practices’ global sum equivalent – meaning that all practices benefit equally irrespective of whether they receive MPIG top-ups to core pay, the BMA said.

BMA pensions committee deputy chairman Dr David Bailey warned it would be ‘madness’ not to ensure even distribution of the funding.

It called for clarity on how locums could check whether payments had been made by employer practices, and for more detail on how funding for the 40% of English practices on locally-agreed PMS contracts would work.

BMA leaders have warned previously that for small practices in particular, funding for locum superannuation may be insufficient and leave them facing thousands of pounds in extra costs.

The BMA response warns: ‘We also feel it will be impossible for practices to take on locums whilst taking on additional CCG responsibilities if the cost of the locum is not fully covered.’

It adds: ‘The consultation suggests that amendments are to be made to allow CCG work to be covered, but we would also ask for further clarity.’

Dr Bailey added that it was ‘manifestly unfair’ to ask NHS staff to pay ‘around double the amount per pound for their pensions as civil service staff’.ties if the cost of the locum is not fully covered.’

It adds: ‘The consultation suggests that amendments are to be made to allow CCG work to be covered, but we would also ask for further clarity.’

Dr Bailey added that it was ‘manifestly unfair’ to ask NHS staff to pay ‘around double the amount per pound for their pensions as civil service staff’.

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