General practice may be facing an increasing doctor shortage caused by the pensions trap, it was claimed today.
The campaign group Everydoctor claims it has details from a number of GPs of significant cuts in hours. It has collected a dossier of reports from GPs about their plans, the Guardian reports.
The government launched a consultation earlier this month on its proposals to tackle the problem by allowing 50-50 pension contributions.
But the Everydoctor dossier suggests that the problem is affecting doctors in their 30s, who are facing tax bills of £10,000 or more. One GP said she had reduced her workload from eight sessions to six sessions a week – and now plans to reduce to four sessions.
She says: “Losing two sessions a week will have a significant impact on waiting times for patients booking appointments and also mean delays in dealing with administrative tasks such as referrals, letters and results.
“The other doctors in the practice are already working over their capacity and are simply not able to take on the additional workload caused by the loss of two sessions.”
Another GP, aged 32, said he intended to drop four out of ten shifts. Two of them are in an emergency department. He said: “As a 32-year-old in the prime of my career wanting to continue to provide patient care I find this somewhat ridiculous to have to pay to work. It’s a sad place whereby hard-working doctors are penalised for working to help the public.”
Dr Julia Patterson, from Everydoctor, said: “The pension crisis is forcing GPs to work fewer sessions per week. This is extremely alarming; patients need to be able to access healthcare in a timely fashion.
“We all know the strain that primary care is under already. People up and down the country struggle to book appointments with their GPs daily because there are too few doctors. Jeremy Hunt pledged in 2015 that there would be 5,000 new GPs by 2020 but it hasn’t happened.”