The British Medical Association (BMA) has outlined a clear call on the Government to offer ‘absolute assurance’ over any fixes it intends to implement to its transitional arrangements for the 2015 pension scheme, and that doctors will not lose out during this process.
Last year, the Department of Health and Social Care conceded the imposition of the 2015 NHS pension scheme had unlawfully discriminated against some clinicians through these transitional provisions.
Much of the discriminatory aspects of the transitional arrangements came around age, with protection being offered to older members – those within 10 years of retirement in April 2012. This allowed for these older clinicians to remain on the more favourable 1995/2008 final salary scheme rather than being forced to join the new 2015 pension scheme.
As a result, tens of thousands of younger doctors potentially faced a reduction in their pension, as well as thereby extending the age at which they could retire compared with their older colleagues.
As part of a response to the Government consultation, the BMA described the ‘deferred choice underpin’ option as the only one suitable, allowing members to base their pension decisions on actual benefits rather than assumed ones.
The BMA added though that no doctor should be expected by Government to shoulder the cost of any efforts to fix the past discrimination – either through paying for it through their pensions or from the cost of advice they might seek to navigate the already “exceedingly complex” pension rules and the remedy.
Instead, it demanded costs linked to any fixes be borne by the Government directly and that employee contribution rates, accrual rates and overall pension benefits were not adversely affected.