GPs must not be caught up in 24-hour retirement overhaul

The BMA has warned that the primary care workforce could be hit hard if GPs are caught up in plans to limit 24-hour retirement rights for top NHS managers.

Dr David Bailey: Hunt would be 'nuts' to stop GPs returning to work (Photo: Ray Farley)
Dr David Bailey: Hunt would be 'nuts' to stop GPs returning to work (Photo: Ray Farley)

The DH has confirmed that 'various options' are being considered that could see NHS pension rules changed after criticism of pay deals for managers.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has written to NHS organisations in a bid to crack down on issues including a 'loophole that allows NHS managers to retire for 24 hours in order to claim a tax-free lump sum from their pension on top of their salary', according to the Daily Mail.

A DH spokeswoman said the letter from Mr Hunt to NHS organisations was focused only on very senior managers, and said any changes to the pension scheme would be consulted on.

24-hour GP retirement

Nuffield Trust chief executive Nigel Edwards said on Twitter that a change to NHS pension rules could have 'serious staffing implications' for doctors if it meant that someone returning to work after 24-hour retirement could not earn more from their pension plus new salary than they did from their old salary.

But BMA deputy pensions committee chairman Dr David Bailey said there was 'no realistic way they could stop 24-hour retirement for GPs'.

'It clearly would cause problems,' he said. 'But I don’t see how they could do away with 24-hour retirement. You’re coming back to work as an independent contractor – how on earth could they stop you doing that?'

He said efforts to tackle 'huge redundancy packages' could not be conflated with GP 24-hour retirement. 'GPs are taking the pension they paid for and earned and are choosing to come back and work after they retired,' he argued.

'Jeremy Hunt would be nuts to try to limit people coming back into the workforce. I can’t see why the government would would do that even if it could.'

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