The government is looking to make pensions more flexible for senior doctors under new proposals.
In recent months, fears over staff attrition in the NHS have increased, as doctors and medical organisations report increased cases of senior staff working fewer hours, opting out of the NHS Pension Scheme, or retiring earlier due to the tax implications of breaching the lifetime or annual allowance.
Health secretary Matt Hancock reportedly met with chancellor Philip Hammond earlier this year to discuss ways to address the problem.
Under the proposals now put forward, known as a 50:50 plan, the government argues high-earning clinicians would be able to take better advantage of pension provision and working patterns by building their NHS pension more gradually, with steadier contributions to avoiding significant tax charges on a regular basis.
By halving pension contributions in exchange for half the rate of pension growth, the government argues that doctors would be able to take on additional shifts or fill rota gaps with less concerns over the tax implications.
While some have sided with doctors on the issue, other commentators have urged the government against giving preferential treatment to a particular sector.
In its statement, the government says it will “continue to examine the evidence on how this specific issue affects other public sector workforces”.
Hancock says: “Our NHS runs on the hard work and dedication of brilliant staff who deliver world-class care for patients every day. Each and every senior consultant, nurse or GP is crucial to the future of our NHS, yet we are losing too many of our most experienced people early because of frustrations over pensions.
“We have listened to the concerns of hardworking staff across the country and are determined to find a solution that better supports our senior clinicians so we can continue to attract and keep the best people.”