Doctors quitting the NHS for early retirement and emigration

Published:  23 Feb at 6 PM
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Doctors in the UK are retiring early due to strict pension savings rules and an overload of work.

As thousands of EU nationals leave their NHS jobs for fear of their post-Brexit status, the worse news is that increasing numbers of their colleagues are retiring early and emigrating. Some 5,000 experienced medical practitioners a year are now heading to an expatriate life, whether for retirement or to take on new positions in a less challenging and more rewarding heathcare environment overseas.

The current state of the NHS and the crushing reality of the £1 million lifetime savings allowance are robbing the UK of fully qualified, experienced hospital doctors and GPs. More and more are giving up working before the age of 60 in order to ensure their pension pots don’t fall foul of swingeing taxes imposed once the limit is reached. Although some say they’ll continue to work as locums, the majority are protecting their investment in their own skills by simply leaving as they’re sick to death of the NHS.

Australia is a favourite destination for those happy to continue working, as hours are shorter and wages higher. Applications to the General Medical Council for the certificates necessary to work abroad reached around 5,000 in 2014 and are still at the same annual figure today. Many overseas medical students who chose to study in the UK are getting their qualifications and getting out, whether to their home countries or elsewhere in the world.

Figures from medical regulators overseas are confirming the trend of migration by British as well as British-trained doctors to other countries, with New Zealand as well as Australia at the top of the list of preferred destinations. Back in the UK, 2017 saw over 700 family doctors below 60 years of age throwing in the towel and retiring, making nonsense of the government’s plan to train 5,000 new doctors by 2020. The target number has already fallen by 1,300.
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