Significant announcements have been made on NHS pensions by the UK Government and the Scottish Government: each offering their own solutions to the pensions issue.

Pensions is a matter that the College has been heavily involved in, and together with our sister Colleges in Glasgow and London, we published a pensions snapshot of physicians across the UK.

The UK Government has announced that doctors in England will have their extra tax bills paid by the NHS, in an effort to avoid unfilled shifts at hospitals this winter. Hundreds of millions of pounds will be spent guaranteeing that consultants, senior nurses and other clinical staff will not be left out of pocket by hefty tax bills.

The College has welcomed the UK Government's announcement along with the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, which said that the plans were "very welcome". 

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has announced an interim policy on pensions, which they say will give eligible NHS staff in Scotland the option to get their employer pension contributions paid to them as part of their basic pay.

The temporary policy will provide eligible staff with an alternative option to restricting their hours in order to reduce financial penalties. The Scottish Government hope this will maintain crucial services as demand on the health service continues to increase. It will run until the end of the current financial year; 31 March 2020.

Professor Derek Bell, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said:

We have been calling for urgent action on pensions for some time, and we welcome any steps to make pension arrangements more flexible for doctors. In that regard, these announcements should be viewed positively.

We would ask the Scottish Government – and indeed the other devolved administrations – to continue dialogue with the UK Government about implementing flexible pension arrangements, which will give doctors the freedom to plan for their futures.

But it is important to point out that the financial circumstances of each doctor are unique. Therefore, we would encourage all individuals to get professional financial advice, to address their own circumstances. 

Paul Gillen

Contact: Paul Gillen 0131 247 3658