The legal action comes after the Government was denied permission to appeal a Court of Appeal decision that similar pension policy changes that applied to firefighters and judges were unlawful age discrimination.
According to the BMA, “at least a dozen” doctors are involved in the legal action, with many more expected to join.
The litigation is in relation to changes to pension policies in 2015. According to the BMA, these changes follow the same principles that were applied to the judges and firefighters pensions that have since been found to be age discriminatory.
The firefighters and judges cases
In December last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that the pension policies applied to firefighters and judges were age discriminatory.
The Government sought permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, but were informed last week that permission was denied. This marks the end of the litigation and the Government now faces a hefty bill to compensate those who lost out as a result of the changes.
The dispute in these cases had arisen in March 2015, after the defined benefit pension schemes that applied to judges and firefighters were closed. Transfers were made into a replacement scheme with transitional provisions put in place for older workers. These provisions allowed older judges and firefighters to remain members of the old schemes either until retirement or until the end of a period of tapered protection, dependent on their age. It was this that was found to be age discriminatory.
The doctors’ pensions
The changes made to doctors pensions were very similar to those that were made to firefighters and judges pensions.
In 2015, two sections of the NHS Pension Scheme were closed. NHS staff were moved onto a newer 2015 scheme with less valuable retirement benefits.
Some older doctors were allowed to stay on the previous schemes until they either retired, or after a fixed transition period had elapsed.
The BMA alleges that the failure to allow younger doctors to benefit from these transitions constituted unlawful age discrimination and that the scheme must therefore be scrapped.