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BMA loses fight over doctors’ fees

7 October, 2008  

The British Medical Association (BMA) has lost a battle in the High Court after it protested over government plans to end free registration for thousands of doctors aged 65 and over.

The BMA argued abolition of the long-standing scheme by the General Medical Council was “conspicuously unfair and an abuse of power” because medical practitioners had not been properly consulted.

But a judge ruled the GMC was forced to end the scheme to comply with new European Union age discrimination laws.

Mr Justice Burnett, sitting in London, said: “Given the background and the context, the process followed by the GMC cannot properly be considered unfair at all.”

The annual retention fee recently went up to £390. The BMA said abolition could potentially result in the GMC unfairly receiving an extra £11.7 million in revenue each year at the expense of medical practitioners.

Since the 1970s, the scheme had operated on the basis that the exemption was subsidised by younger doctors, who would then benefit themselves when they reached 65.

But the GMC successfully argued that it had no choice but to abolish the exemption because it had received legal advice that it breached an EU Directive on equal treatment in employment which prohibited unjustifiable age discrimination.

Copyright PA Business 2008