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BMA loses High Court battle over ‘unfair’ widow pension rules

The BMA has lost its court battle against ‘unfair’ pension rules which mean male widowers of GPs receive smaller pension payouts than their female counterparts.

Under current rules if a male GP dies his widow will receive his pension entitlement based on all contributions made up until the GP’s death. Yet when a female GP dies, her widower is only entitled to receive payments based on pension contributions made after 1988.

The High Court ruled today that the Government’s public sector pension rules are ‘justified’ and said that overturning the rules on widowers could cost the public purse in excess of £4bn. The BMA’s legal team was acting on behalf of Iain Cockburn, the widower of Dr Clare Boothroyd, a Warwickshire GP who died in 2007.

The BMA is now considering an application for permission to appeal the ruling.

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chair of the BMA, said: ‘It’s unfair that female members of the NHS pension scheme do not have the same rights as men.’

‘We’re disappointed that this sexual discrimination couldn’t be stopped in the High Court, but we will continue to highlight it, and to fight for fair pensions for all doctors.’