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Doubts grow over number of NHS doctors helped by pension giveaway

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The number of hospital doctors that could be helped by Jeremy Hunt’s pensions giveaway has been cast into doubt, after new figures revealed that only 100 of them left the NHS last year due to voluntary early retirement.Criticism has mounted about the measure announced in the budget, which would scrap the up to 55% tax levied on lifetime pension pots worth just over £1m and raise the annual allowance threshold from £40,000 to £60,000.Despite claims it would only benefit the super-wealthy, the Treasury suggested the move would help the NHS to retain staff.On Wednesday, Hunt said he had “listened to the concerns of many senior NHS clinicians, who say unpredictable pension tax charges are making them leave the NHS just when they are needed most”.He added: “I do not want any doctor to retire early because of the way pension taxes work.”But instead of offering the tax break just to doctors, as Labour has called for, Hunt said “the issue goes wider than doctors” and that “no one should be pushed out of the workforce for tax reasons”.The number of hospital doctors to leave the NHS recently who it may have prevented from doing so is barely into three figures, according to statistics.Just 105 of them left the NHS for voluntary early retirement in 2021/22, according to information provided by junior health minister Will Quince.

The figure was 561 among nurses and 20 for health visitors.Aside from the 8,191 NHS staff whose reason for leaving was “unknown”, the top recorded reasons given by NHS leavers were reaching the end of a fixed-term contract, hitting retirement age or relocating.Tax expert Prof Richard Murphy of the University of Sheffield said it appeared ministers did not have the data to back their claims.He said: “If they

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