The BMA is taking action against the Government on behalf of at least a dozen doctors who believe they were forced to join a pension scheme that will result in huge financial losses when they retire.
The move follows a decision to refuse the Government leave to appeal a court of appeal decision involving the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) which centred on changes made to firefighters’ pensions in 2015. The changes meant that older members could stay in the existing and better pension scheme, while younger members had to transfer to a new “financially detrimental” scheme. The FBU argued that the changes imposed on younger members were unlawful on age, sex and race-discrimination grounds.
Now that the Government’s appeal against the FBU has failed, the BMA is seeking acknowledgement that the changes to the NHS pension scheme also unlawfully discriminate against the scheme's younger members. It wants the Government to scrap the scheme so that doctors are not adversely affected by it in later years.
BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul said: “Although doctors’ pension schemes are different, the BMA believes the underlying legal principles are essentially the same and we want to bring a challenge on behalf of the UK’s younger doctors regarding the legality of the 2015 NHS pension scheme.”
In March of this year, the BMA wrote to the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock warning him of the intention to take legal action. Letters were also sent to the Scottish and Northern Ireland Governments on behalf of members in those nations.
“We have made our intention and position very clear and we expect to support many more doctors in the coming month,” Dr Nagpaul said.