MP raises 'urgent' NHS pension issue in Commons

Winchester & Chandler's Ford MP Steve Brine spoke in a short Parliamentary debate today (Wednesday) to mark the publication of the interim NHS People Plan.

The document has been developed collaboratively with national leaders as well as partners across the system and sets out a vision for how people working in the NHS - and recruited to it - will be supported to deliver world-class care.

Steve welcomed its publication which he said was the "turn-key without which the NHS Long Term Plan cannot work".

But he also used the debate to challenge Ministers on the current challenges facing the NHS Pension Scheme. Recent changes to pension tax legislation relating to the Annual Allowance and the Life Time Allowance have caused widespread concern, including at Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust (HHFT) which runs the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

Speaking in the House, the MP said he had been contacted by a number of constituents after they received unexpected tax bills of tens of thousands of pounds.

And he told MPs HHFT had contacted him to warn the issue is impacting patient care as some medical staff were foregoing additional sessional work, because the increase in tax is greater than the money earned with an effective tax rate of over 100%.

Mr Brine urged Health Minister Stephen Hammond MP to look urgently at the issue because the impact on staff retention couldn't be under-estimated given the changes were forcing some consultant doctors and senior nursing staff to make long-term career decisions.

The Minister responded with news of a consultation, launched yesterday, around proposals which he said would make pensions more flexible for senior clinicians delivering front-line care.

Speaking after the debate, the MP said; "I asked HHFT's Chief Executive about the issue when I was in recently opening the new Emergency Department because I could see from constituency correspondence this was a huge issue for some individuals. But alongside that, I was concerned of a possible Trust wide impact and Alex Whitfield confirmed the pension situation is having a significant impact on their people.

"Ministers need to move fast on this to ensure we don't lose good and experienced medical staff. I have already followed up with the Secretary of State and will keep very close on the issue to ensure voices from my constituency are heard."

Pictured; Steve Brine on his feet in the House of Commons.

More information ...

NHS People Plan

Top doctors to be given more flexible pensions

Read Steve's contribution via Hansard debate pages