Hundreds of hospital consultants say they’ll leave the NHS well before retirement age

The BMA has warned that the implications of such a significant loss of skilled and specialist clinicians would be potentially disastrous for the already beleaguered national health service.

Matt Bodell
11 January 2019
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Hundreds of senior hospital doctors plan on leaving the NHS before retirement to seek a better work-life balance.

A survey of hospital consultants, conducted by the British Medical Association (BMA), shows that six out of ten consultant doctors are intending to retire from the NHS before or at the age of 60 – citing a need for a better work-life balance.

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The BMA has warned that the implications of such a significant loss of skilled and specialist clinicians would be potentially disastrous for the already beleaguered national health service.

The news comes only days after the Royal College of Nursing warned that chronic staffing shortages could undermine the goals set out in the NHS Long Term plan.

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said: “The health service is in the throes of a severe workforce shortage, and any suggestion that skilled senior clinicians are planning to reduce or end their NHS commitments is highly concerning. 

“It is therefore imperative that the NHS is able to support hospital consultants to remain in work. The investment in the Long Term Plan has to reduce the pressure on our front line teams, but we also must do more to support the better balancing of demanding work and life priorities.

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“In relation to the impact of government pensions tax policy, the new ‘schemepays’ approach will help, but we need greater flexibility in the pension scheme so that staff can manage their pension growth to reflect and support their own needs and priorities.”

Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said: “Such a situation is clearly untenable. During a deepening workforce crisis, the NHS needs its most experienced and expert doctors now more than ever. I struggle to understand how the Health Secretary can talk about increasing productivity in hospital care, while allowing the NHS to be a system which perversely encourages its most experienced doctors to do less work and, in some cases, to leave when they do not want to.

“This is happening against the backdrop of the derisory new pay settlement for consultants in England – an average weekly uplift of just £6.10 after tax – at a time when they have lost over 24 per cent of take-home pay in the last decade.”

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