Defined Benefit 

Doctors to sue government over pension discrimination

Doctors to sue government over pension discrimination

Doctors will be filing age discrimination claims against the government in relation to pension policies implemented in 2015, which saw younger doctors transferred to a less generous pension scheme.

The law suit mirrors the case won by judges and firefighters last year, when it was ruled the government had discriminated against the two groups on the grounds of age, race and equal pay in relation to changes to their pension.

Law firm Capital Law, acting on behalf of The British Medical Association, wrote to secretary of state for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, the Department of Health (Northern Ireland), and the Scottish government, yesterday (March 11) informing them of the impending claims.

In the letters Capital Law stated the BMA was finalising the individual claimants’ claims but added it was envisaged that there would be further claims brought by doctors working as consultants, specialty doctors, junior doctors, and GPs.

The BMA is asking the government to confirm that it "will agree that the 2015 NHS pension scheme unlawfully discriminates against its younger members," and that it will remedy this situation should the judgement in the judges' and firefighters' case be upheld.

This is expected to be appealed in the Supreme Court.

The issue at the origin of the doctors’ claims, as well as the lawsuit brought by judges and firefighters, was the implementation of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013, which saw younger members being transferred into a new scheme in 2015 which offered less valuable retirement benefits.

Transitional provisions were put in place, which allow older individuals to remain members of the old scheme, either until retirement or until the end of a period of tapered protection, dependent on their age. 

Trevor Pickersgill, BMA’s interim treasurer, said: "Many doctors had been 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 these discriminatory changes were brought in."

In December, after several rounds of court action, the Court of Appeal ruled the government had discriminated against judges and firefighters on the grounds of age, race and equal pay in relation to changes to their pension.

But the government intends to appeal this decision.

maria.espadinha@ft.com