BMA seeks pension tiers cap
20 February 2013
Doctors leaders have urged the government to freeze NHS staff pension contributions at April 2012 levels.
The BMA says capping the top three tiers would help tackle the unfairness of the NHS pension scheme reforms.
If the government does not agree, doctors earning more than £48,983 face an increase in pensions contributions of 2.4 per cent from this April. Those earning £26,558 to £48,982 would see a 1 per cent increase, while those earning between £21,176 and £26,557 would have to contribute 0.3 per cent more.
This will be the second of three consecutive annual rises, which could leave the highest earning doctors paying 14.5 per cent of their salaries into the NHS pension scheme. It comes on top of an increase in 2008, when the NHS pension scheme was reformed.
In its response to a Department of Health consultation on amendments to the NHS pension scheme regulations, the BMA calls on the government to reduce the disproportionate impact of 2012/13 to 2014/15 increases on higher paid staff by capping contribution rates at April 2012 rates. The highest paid doctors would still contribute 10.9 per cent of their salaries.
The BMA argues that although this would mean the NHS pension scheme would not achieve the government’s blanket target of an average increase of 3.2 per cent in staff contributions across all public sector schemes, the government has already made significant savings by switching pension indexation from the retail price index to the consumer price index.
The association’s consultation response says the combined effect of the NHS pension scheme reforms mean that between 2007/08 and 2014/15 doctors’ contribution rates will rise by 108 per cent for those earning around £49,000, 125 per cent for those earning around £70,000, and 142 per cent for those earning above £110,000.
The BMA reiterates its calls for the government to tackle, rather than entrench, the unfairness in its approach to pension reform.
It says: ‘It is important for the future sustainability of public sector schemes, that they remain sufficiently attractive to both lower earners and higher earners.’
Gaps in coverage
The consultation also covers new arrangements for benefits paid to NHS staff injured or made ill in the course of their work.
The BMA is concerned that GPs and salaried GPs and doctors with honorary contracts will not be covered by the arrangement.
It wants to see all NHS staff, including those not covered by the current system, such as GP locums, covered by the scheme.
The proposals also limit payment of the injury allowance to a maximum of 12 months, or the time at which employment is terminated. NHS staff will be expected to pursue claims for personal injury instead of relying on the benefit.
The BMA response says this means ‘doctors who incur a serious work-related injury will be in a significantly worse financial position’.