Health secretary admits female GP pensions are 'direct discrimination'

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has accepted that paying the widowers of female GPs less than the widows of male GPs is 'direct discrimination', according to the BMA's legal team.

Mr Lansley: female GP pensions are 'direct discrimination'
Mr Lansley: female GP pensions are 'direct discrimination'

Alex Fox is one of the solicitors representing the BMA as part of the judicial review at London's High Court against the law which means that the widowed partners of female NHS staff receive a smaller pension than partners of male NHS staff.

Speaking to GPonline.com, Mr Fox said that health secretary has ‘accepted that this is direct discrimination’.

However the admission does not mean that the case is won.

‘The government may still allow the act of discrimination to continue where it can justify that act,’ Mr Fox said.

The health secretary has argued that it would be too costly to the public purse to rectify the problem. The government has estimated it would cost around £4bn to eliminate the discrimination across all public sector pension schemes, Mr Fox said.

The case is expected to conclude today. At its heart is Iain Cockburn, the widower of Warwickshire GP Dr Clare Boothroyd who died after suffering from cancer in February 2007. A widow in Mr Cockburn's situation would receive £3,200 more in annual pension payments than he currently receives. The ruling is expected next week.

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