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BMA taking legal advice on Government changes to GP pension contributions

The BMA is seeking legal advice over the annualisation of pensions, with GP leaders claiming the process is ‘unfair’.

Income annualisation calculates what GPs should be contributing to their pension based on an extrapolation of what they have earned for part of a year, rather than their actual annual earnings.

But GP leaders say this is unfair for certain GPs, who may not work all year, and have questioned whether the Government conducted an equality impact assessment on the process.

Dr Krishan Aggarwal, deputy chair of the BMA GP Committee’s sessional subcommittee, said: ‘For example, for a locum who goes on maternity, it becomes unfair. If a woman works for three months and then goes on maternity leave, then that three months of income gets increased.

‘It also affects those locums who have recurring illnesses where they’re having to take time off for periods of time.’

He added that this can needlessly bump up a GP to a higher pension contribution tier.

The process was first introduced under NHS Pension Scheme Regulations in April 2015 but the BMA said they only became aware of it in 2016, at which point GP leaders entered talks with the Government.

Dr Aggarwal said the BMA is currently ‘seeking a legal opinion and depending on that legal opinion we’ll make a decision on how we go forward’.

He added: ‘We’re raising our concerns because we’re not happy about how this has been done and is being applied.’

This comes as the BMA and Department of Health and Social Care were disputing whether an equality assessment had taken place on the annualisation process.

BMA guidance says: ‘The Equality Impact Assessment that was carried out was unsatisfactory because it failed, in our view, to consider at all the potentially discriminatory impact of annualising.’

Dr Aggarwal said: ‘They’ve asked us to remove our guidance and we’ve said no, unless they can give us evidence that an equality and impact assessment has been done, with regards to annualisation.’