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12.03.19

BMA to sue government over pension changes resulting in ‘huge’ losses

The British Medical Association (BMA) is to sue the government on behalf of thousands of doctors who have claimed they have been forced to join a pension scheme that will result in “huge financial losses” when they retire.

BMA solicitors have written to the health secretary Matt Hancock, warning him of their intention to take legal action against pension changes which they say are “discriminatory.”

The action follows a Court of Appeal ruling last year involving judges and firefighters which found that the government discriminated against the workers on the grounds of age, race, and equal pay in relation to changes to their pension schemes.

The BMA said that whilst the schemes are different, it believes the underlying legal principles are essentially the same, and that the outcome of the ruling could influence any legal challenge brought on behalf of younger doctors.

In 2015, the NHS closed two sections of the NHS Pension scheme, moving thousands of staff over to a newer scheme which Trevor Pickersgill, the BMA’s interim treasurer, said has less valuable retirement benefits.

He said: “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.

“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.”

The government is appealing the judges and firefighters ruling, which is estimated to cost around £4bn, but the BMA “is demanding that, should that appeal fail, the government will agree that 2015 NHS Pension Scheme does unlawfully discriminate against its younger members.”

“The BMA wants the government to scrap the scheme so that doctors are not adversely affected by it in later years.”

Image credit - PeopleImages

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