Press Release: HCSA warns the time for tinkering on pensions is over

HCSA – the hospital doctors’ union has issued the following response to today’s Commons speech by Secretary of State Therese Coffey.

HCSA President Dr Naru Narayanan said: “We welcome the fact that the Health Secretary has acknowledged the huge risks which broken NHS pensions tax rules pose in the battle to retain our most experienced doctors. Keeping them is crucial if we are to tackle a waiting list of 7 million operations, tests and scans.

“Action on pensions, pay and chronic understaffing are all key to clearing the backlog. But on workforce unfortunately we are left once again with vague pledges that a plan is nearing, and evasion on whether this will include an assessment of the number of staff needed. Without numbers, any workforce plan will merely be an aspiration.

“We also heard a hotchpotch on pensions which fails to tackle the fundamental issue. The vow to correct unfair rules around scheme growth due to inflation is positive, as is news that Trusts will be required to offer pensions contribution recycling from 2023.

“But all of this is just tinkering around the edges on pensions tax. The time for a solution has long since passed when everyone from the Office for Tax Simplification to the NHS Confederation sees that there is a need for radical reform. We need the abolition of the unfair annual allowance in defined benefit schemes like the NHS pension. We also need to see Lifetime Allowance thresholds uplifted and linked to inflation so that senior staff are not incentivised to retire.”