NHS pension crisis causes patient backlog

A major London trust is finding it difficult to deal with a growing number of gastroenterology patients as senior consultants are unwilling to take on more hours due to the tax issues facing the NHS pension scheme.

The Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust had 14 patients waiting over a year in its gastroenterology service in April.

The trust said that it was unable to put on extra clinics as consultants do not want to take on the additional hours, which could impact the amount of tax they pay on their pension contributions.

The amount of tax relief available on pension contributions for NHS workers earning over £110,000 per year is being restricted by the tapered annual allowance.

However, Chancellor Philip Hammond ruled out scrapping the tapered annual allowance in May as it is necessary “to create a fair system and protect finances”.

This is despite calls from some in the pensions industry, such as Royal London, encouraging the government to scrap the controversial annual allowance.

In its latest board meeting, Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust chief executive, Chris Brown, said that the backlog was created due to its “inability to put on extra clinics across the service, as a result of the widely-reported pension tax issue affecting consultants”.

He continued: “We are extending the use of locum and external consultants to supplement our core workforce to resolve the issue.”

The backlog amounted to almost half of instances of patients waiting over a year for services in April, which had more than doubled from the 14 instances reported in March.

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