Patients are suffering delays to operations and cancer diagnosis because NHS staff are turning down extra shifts in fear of being landed with massive tax bills, it was claimed yesterday.

Other critical areas affected include intensive care and emergency wards, as well as radiology and pathology departments, according to The Financial Times.

At the heart of the concerns are complicated rules which can trigger huge tax bills on pension contributions.

It means those earning more than £110,000 a year can 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.

Health service chiefs are set to discuss the issue in talks today.

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