BMA to challenge the imposed cap on GPs' pensions

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs Committee, denounced Lord Warner's decision to cap GP pensions as reneging on a contract agreement and denying doctors the pensions they have already paid for.

BMA to challenge the imposed cap on GPs' pensions

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, denounced Lord Warner’s decision to cap GP pensions as reneging on a contract agreement and denying doctors the pensions they have already paid for.

“Most GPs are self-employed. They pay both the employers’ and the employees’ contributions into the NHS Pension Scheme. The pensions they have accrued are in fact delayed pay resulting from a contract agreed by the government with the profession. For Lord Warner to say they cannot have the pension they have earned and paid for is a denial of their contractual rights. We will be challenging his decision” said Dr Meldrum.

While family doctors have seen a substantial rise in income under the new contract, the BMA believes the earning figures announced last week by the government are wrong. Dr Meldrum said: “Because of a significant error, the quoted figures are pitched at too high a level. We understand the 14% employers’ pension contribution has been mistakenly included in the income figures. The error means the average GP pay for 2004-05 is well below £100,000, not the six figure income as reported. It also means the percentage rise in pay is substantially below the 32% claimed by the government.” Clarification of the error is being sought by the BMA.

Dr Meldrum said: “Lord Warner’s offer of a 48% rise in the pension dynamising factor* over five years may seem superficially generous but it is not the deal we negotiated and will seriously disadvantage GPs nearing retirement and those who have recently retired. Those doctors retired believing in good faith that they would receive the pensions they had earned and paid for. Moreover, we believe the timing of the announcement is premature, is based on estimated figures of doubtful accuracy and, therefore, we do not accept the assertions that honouring this deal would take money away from patient services.

“The government’s decision is a betrayal of good faith and is depriving doctors of a pension we believe they have a legal right to receive.”

The BMA’s GPs Committee will now seek further legal advice on mounting a challenge to Lord Warner’s announcements on capping of pensions.

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