BMA slams 'unfair' pension reforms

Doctors' leaders have launched a fresh attack on the Government's controversial pension reforms, labelling them "fundamentally unfair".

The British Medical Association (BMA) said the changes would entrench disparities across public sector pension schemes, with many NHS staff hardest hit.

The Bill enacting the reforms, which has its second reading later this month, should be amended so that NHS staff do not have to work beyond the age of 65 to receive a full pension, said the BMA.

The BMA took industrial action in June in protest against the reforms, which they said would leave doctors paying significantly more for their pensions than other public sector employees on similar salaries.

Further national industrial action has been suspended, although hospital doctors in Scotland will vote next month on whether to take action before Christmas.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA Council, said: "The BMA has always accepted that the NHS pension scheme must offer a fair deal to taxpayers as well as to staff. At a time when many NHS employees are in the third year of a pay freeze and dealing with the combined effects of major funding pressures and structural reforms, it is more important than ever that the Government should accept the same.

"The Government is due to achieve a total of £430 billion of savings over the next 50 years, directly from the impact on public sector workers' pensions. To a large degree public service employees are being penalised for an economic crisis not of their making.

"But beyond this fundamental unfairness, the changes will also embed unjustifiable discrepancies between and within different public sector schemes. How can it be right that someone working for the NHS pays twice as much for their pension as a civil servant on the same salary?"

The ballot of hospital doctors in Scotland is due to be held next month, with any action taking place on December 12.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: "Under the new pension arrangements a newly qualified doctor can still expect to retire on a pension of £68,000. This is a pension three times greater than the average UK salary. The doctor's pension is a fantastic pension by anyone's standards and the BMA should recognise that."