Hunt tells Tory leadership hopefuls to halt pension tax charges on doctors now

Former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt has called for an immediate suspension of public sector pension rules that are undermining the medical workforce.

Jeremy Hunt
Former health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt (Photo: Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Current pension tax rules are causing a wave of early retirements in the health service, Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt tweeted: ‘Grant an immediate exemption for doctors to public sector pension rules which are currently forcing them to retire in their fifties in alarming numbers.’

Punitive pension tax charges have become a pressing issue among GPs, with some facing penalties worth half their post tax income for pension growth from which they never benefit.

The pensions crisis appears to be fuelling a wave of early retirements in a profession, contributing to a downward trend in numbers of GPs.

GPonline reported last month that general practice had lost more than 440 full-time equivalent, fully qualified GPs over the past year, while patient numbers increased.

Mr Hunt renewed his call for a green list scheme exempting doctors from countries with high-quality medical training from bureaucratic hurdles to working in the UK.

The former health and social care secretary said on Twitter: ‘A mass overseas recruitment drive for doctors and nurses as a temporary, short-term lever - allowing doctors from countries with good medical education systems like Canada and Germany to be green listed so they don't have to resit pointless additional exams.'

Named GP

He also called for a return to a system where every patient was linked to a specific family doctor rather than being attached to a surgery.

He said: ‘We did this in the NHS before 2004 and then tragically changed the GP contract.

‘But since then, the evidence has mounted that continuity of care is transformative in keeping people out of hospital - one study last year showed a 25% reduction in mortality rates and 30% reduction in hospital visits for people who saw the same doctor over many years. This will become much easier if we make good on our promise to recruit 6,000 more GPs.’

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