Northern Ireland news

Doctors cut overtime work to avoid big tax bills

Consultants have warned they are reducing their hours to avoid big tax bills
Seanín Graham

THE leading trade union for doctors in Northern Ireland has warned that "unexpected" pension tax bills could result in medics cutting their hours - putting further pressure on waiting lists.

A survey carried out by British Medical Association said that almost a fifth of consultants had already reduced their workload while more than 40 per cent are planning to retire earlier than intended.

Tax changes for the profession's pensions were introduced in 2016, which meant that those earning £110,000 a year risk larger bills when their income increases.

As a result, some doctors in England have refused to work overtime.

However, another senior consultant in a Birmingham hospital agreed to work shifts for free - which would have otherwise gone unstaffed - to avoid a big bill.

With the north's waiting lists now the worst in the entire NHS, BMA chiefs say the development will put a further strain on the north's health service and described it as "unjustifiable".

Anne Carson, chair of BMA of consultant committee said there had been "time lag" in extending the charges to the north but they will "land soon".

"This is not avoiding paying taxes - consultants are already taxed on their pay. This is about the punitive tax there is for taking on additional work...covering maternity leave, management work or waiting list initiatives," she said.

“Nor is this about consultants avoiding or not wanting to address waiting list issue...but due to the way the tax system is set up it essentially means that we would be doing that additional work for free."

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