NHS trusts are now handing out cash top-ups to convince doctors not to retire

The NHS is handing out cash top-ups to doctors' salaries in a desperate bid to stop them from retiring early.

Doctors are trying to avoid big tax bills from stricter pension rules that put a cap on their saving allowances. 

It's led to thousands leaving the profession early, amid a worsening staff shortage in the NHS workforce. 

Around ten NHS trusts have now offered to contribute cash to doctors' pensions so they can opt out of the pension scheme, the Financial Times reports.  

The NHS is handing out cash top-ups to doctors' salaries in a desperate bid to stop them from retiring early because of the huge tax bills on pension allowances

The NHS is handing out cash top-ups to doctors' salaries in a desperate bid to stop them from retiring early because of the huge tax bills on pension allowances

York and Harrogate NHS trusts are among the organisations offering cash top-ups to salaries to senior doctors as an incentive to stay. 

'Our trust has an established scheme to support employees who wish to opt out of the pension scheme because of the lifetime allowance cap,' said a spokesperson for the York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

'We are in discussions regarding expanding the scheme to support those who wish to opt out because it is no longer economically viable for them to contribute if they would exceed the annual allowance by remaining in the scheme.'

Harrogate NHS Trust did not respond to a request for comment.  

Restrictions which came into affect in 2016 mean doctors who earn more than £110,000 a year enter a 'taper zone' which triggers big tax bills.

This can reduce the annual allowance – the tax-free amount workers can contribute to their pension – to £10,000 for those earning £210,000.

NHS GP SHORTAGE IS A 'DESPERATE SITUATION'

Official figures showed in February that 41 per cent of GPs – around 10,000 doctors – are 50 or over and are expected to quit within the next five to ten years. 

And 2.5 million patients are at risk of their local GP surgery closing because so many are relying on doctors who are close to retirement, it was last week revealed. 

At the same time, fewer young doctors are choosing to specialise as GPs and are opting for other career paths as surgeons or specialists. 

Many GPs are retiring in their 50s, moving abroad or leaving to work in the private sector, increasing the pressure on those who still work in the sector. 

Appointment waiting times are getting longer and more people are going to A&E for minor illnesses because they can't see a doctor. 

Despite an NHS a plan to recruit 5,000 extra GPs by 2021, numbers of family doctors are falling.   

And 762 GP practices across the UK could close within the next five years, according to the Royal College of Nursing.

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, last week told The Times: 'This is a desperate situation with potentially serious consequences for patients.'  

It's led to more than 3,500 doctors to retire early to avoid bills of thousands of pounds, the Government has admitted.

Patients are suffering delays to operations and cancer diagnosis as a result of staff turning down extra shifts in fear of being hit with a huge tax bill.

Other critical areas affected include

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