Exclusive: Bid to scrap GP added pension years

The BMA is seeking legal advice to prevent the government from withdrawing GPs' right to top up their pensions by purchasing added years, BMA pensions committee chairman Dr Andrew Dearden has said.

Dr Dearden: the BMA is seeking legal advice to protect GPs' right to buy added years on pensions (Photograph: JH Lancy)

Dr Dearden told the GP Pensions Conference in London last week that when the government first reviewed Lord Hutton's proposals for public sector pensions, its intention was to close the added years scheme currently available to members of the 1995 NHS pensions deal when it implements revisions to NHS pensions in 2015.

But the BMA has argued that the added years deal should be viewed separately to the wider NHS pension scheme.

'We feel the added years contract is separate,' Dr Dearden said. 'It's a bolt-on to the pension scheme and therefore agreed separately.'

Purchasing added years can increase a GP's NHS pension and tax-free lump sum at retirement. Unlike members of the 2008 NHS pension scheme, members of the 1995 scheme can, under certain circumstances, still buy added years. GPs are eligible to buy added years at half the normal cost for any period when they were a self-employed GP.

The BMA is seeking legal advice to establish whether the government could legally scrap the scheme. 'Each side is checking its legal position but I am fairly confident that we are correct,' Dr Dearden said.

So far the BMA has 'had a discussion' with the government and made clear its views on changes to the added years scheme.

'It won't be a surprise to the government what our views are,' Dr Dearden said.

The BMA is encouraging its members to take part in the government's consultation on pension contribution changes.

Dr Dearden said that the DoH was beginning to take note of doctors' anger over plans to change pensions. 'I don't think it has truly understood the impact it will have on manpower,' Dr Dearden added.

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