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Independents' Day

BMA threatens legal action over ‘discriminatory’ NHS pension scheme

The BMA is to help GPs and other doctors sue the Government over the NHS pension scheme if ministers refuse to admit the scheme discriminates against younger members.

BMA solicitors have today written to the health secretary Matt Hancock - as well as to the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland's Department of Health - to warn of legal action that will accuse the Government of discriminating against doctors by forcing some of them to join a pension scheme.

The BMA said many younger doctors were made to join the new scheme in April 2015 - with approximately 75% of NHS doctors joining the scheme on that date - while older doctors were allowed to stay on the older and more beneficial scheme.

This is not only discriminatory, but will result in ‘huge’ financial losses for some doctors, the BMA has argued.

The news follows a ruling in December by the Court of Appeal, which said the Government discriminated against judges and firefighters in relation to their pension scheme, which is similar to the NHS scheme.

In both circumstances, older doctors and firefighters could stay part of the existing pension scheme - which was deemed better - while the younger members had to transfer to the ‘new and worse’ scheme, which caused significant financial losses, according to the BMA.

The Government is appealing the decision made in December, and if it loses, the BMA wants it to 'agree that the 2015 NHS Pension Scheme does unlawfully discriminate against its younger members' and 'scrap the scheme so that doctors are not adversely affected by it in later years'.

The BMA said unless the Government admits the NHS pension scheme discriminates against younger members, it will help doctors to sue the Government.  

Every doctors whose normal pension age falls after 01/04/2022 should expect to see a positive impact on their pension position if the BMA is successful in this legal action, the body said.

Interim BMA treasurer Dr Trevor Pickersgill said: 'In 2015, the NHS closed two sections of the NHS Pension Scheme, moving many NHS staff onto a newer 2015 scheme with less valuable retirement benefits.

'However, it also allowed some older doctors to stay on the previous schemes until they either retired or they moved to the new scheme at the end of a fixed transition period.

'The BMA alleges that the failure to allow younger doctors to benefit from these transitions constitutes unlawful age discrimination.'   

Dr Pickersgill added: ‘Many doctors had been working towards and planning for their retirement based on membership of the former sections of the NHS pension scheme, only for those plans to be completely disregarded once the Government’s discriminatory changes were brought in.'

Earlier this month, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey revealed that GPs in their 30s are being advised to cut clinical hours to avoid extra pension charges by their accountants.

Dr Vautrey told Pulse the BMA and NHS England have raised the issue with the Treasury and called for changes to ensure GPs can see patients without having to effectively 'pay to work'.


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Readers' comments (6)

  • BMA " will help doctors to sue .."

    Help? Wtf does that mean?

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  • Whoooo bet they are scared!!!!BMA to light another firework which will fizzle out pfft!Yawn

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  • Too late.
    Along with many other middle-agers (50) had to leave the pension scheme, relinquishing hard-eaned ill-health retirement and death-in-service benefits, as just too young to qualify for the protected pot. It stinks

    BMA finally wakes up when consultants start getting clobbered by tax on pension growth, but were happy to see GP's sent over the precipice.

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  • Excellent. Take us the extra mile and get us to join the dentists and lawyers so we can finally be free as a profession without being told by people who does not know the job.

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  • The 2015 pension changes made by the Government were terrible. It worked because they split the profession and allowed the older doctors to say in the scheme that was clearly better whilst penalising younger doctors and forcing them to work until they drop. I am watching this closely. Let's hope that they can prove an age discrimination that was clearly the case.

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  • Truth finder mentions "free as a profession" - this is precisely what we have totally relinquished. We are not Independent Contractors, we are no longer members of a Professional Body , we are just "skilled workforce" to be pushed around by NHSE as it sees fit and to be relentlessly bullied by the GMC and the CQC. Our forebears wouldn't believe how far we have fallen.

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