Letters, calls and emails: GPs prefer to pay more for better conditions

Dear Editor

It is disappointing that GP focuses on the costs of the new pensions deal, overlooking its many benefits and failing to put it in any context.

The initial government proposals were to reduce everyone's pension by 10-20 per cent, while raising the retirement age from 60 to 65 years old.

When we surveyed doctors at the time they made it clear that they would rather pay more into their pensions than see them reduced and have to work five years longer to achieve them.

Working with other health unions, the BMA fought off these threats. GP presents the deal as something new, but we consulted on them, including the issue of increased contributions, last year, and the overwhelming view of doctors was that they were acceptable.

As any independent financial adviser will tell you, the NHS pension is already one of the best occupational schemes in the country, and under this deal there have been significant improvements. We have, for example, kept the normal pension age for all current staff at 60, kept all pension contributions as tax-deductible expenses, improved benefits for dependent children and surviving spouses, and achieved greater flexibility.

We have also negotiated to take the cap off pensions, which will result in higher pensions for those affected, and ensured the stability of the scheme, we estimate, for the next 20 years.

Dr Andrew Dearden, Chairman of the BMA Pensions Committee.

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