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GPs, pensions and a retirement / retention / recruitment crisis

by on February 9, 2015

There was a very interesting item on the BBC World at One yesterday on the topic of GPs and their pensions (the discussion starts at 37.32 via this link to the programme recording). It’s already been noted in the media that this part of the medical profession faces a recruitment crisis (see, for example, this recent item in The Telegraph) with very few of today’s trainee doctors and medical students currently intending to go into general practice.  This compounds existing staff shortages: the number of unfilled posts was almost 8% cent in 2013, up from 2.1% in 2010. This in turn impacts on existing GPs’ workloads. A particular twist affecting GPs’ pension arrangements is now said to be further exacerbating the situation.

If I’ve understood the issue – and it was flagged a while back in this item on the PULSE website – changes in individual tax relief announced in 2012 means that GPs are one group that now stop receiving tax relief when their lifetime pension contributions exceed £1.25m. This is down from the previous pot limit of £1.5m. The item on the radio focused on GPs in their 50s who are contemplating early retirement not least because their pension pots are near or at this £1.25m limit AND because of the challenges they face from extended working days, staff shortages and increased bureaucracy.

Whilst many will not be overly sympathetic with those whose issue is a pension pot exceeding £1.25m, the consequences of experienced GPs in their 50s to wanting to retire early – with few medical students wanting to train to replace them in general practice – sounds highly problematic.

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