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COVID-19 death in service: call for compensation to continue

Government withdraws coronavirus life assurance scheme for NHS and social care staff, but nurses’ leader urges ministers to rethink as virus cases surge
Man looks care-worn as he holds toddler in his arms

Government withdraws coronavirus life assurance scheme for NHS and social care staff, but nurses’ leader urges ministers to rethink as virus cases surge

The government has been urged to retain rather than scrap its life assurance scheme for families of staff who die from coronavirus, as compensation comes to an end.

Dependents of nursing staff who die from COVID-19 contracted at work will no longer be entitled to a £60,000 government pay-out.

Rising coronavirus prevalence and possible increased symptom severity

But with coronavirus cases surging following the lifting of social distancing measures – amid warnings of new, severe variants to come – the RCN says now is not the time to end the scheme.

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Government withdraws coronavirus life assurance scheme for NHS and social care staff, but nurses’ leader urges ministers to rethink as virus cases surge

Man looks care-worn as he holds toddler in his arms
Picture: iStock

The government has been urged to retain rather than scrap its life assurance scheme for families of staff who die from coronavirus, as compensation comes to an end.

Dependents of nursing staff who die from COVID-19 contracted at work will no longer be entitled to a £60,000 government pay-out.

Rising coronavirus prevalence and possible increased symptom severity

But with coronavirus cases surging following the lifting of social distancing measures – amid warnings of new, severe variants to come – the RCN says now is not the time to end the scheme.

In April 2020, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) set up the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance scheme that entitles families of nursing staff and others who die from COVID-19 to financial support.

But from 1 April, families of staff, including nursing students, locums and part-time workers who die as a result of contracting the virus at work will no longer receive the compensation payment.

The RCN has written to health and social care secretary Sajid Javid, urging a re-think. College general secretary Pat Cullen said in the letter: ‘The pandemic is far from over. Now is not the right time to remove the reassurance that if the worst were to happen to nursing staff delivering front-line care, their loved ones would be compensated.

‘I urge you to delay the end of the scheme until a time when nursing staff and all health and care workers are assured that their lives are not at such risk from the pandemic.’

Ten healthcare workers died in the three months to 5 March this year following workplace exposure, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

However, the government insists the scheme was always intended to be time-limited.

‘NHS staff continue to be eligible for death in service benefits through the NHS pension scheme, including a twice-salary lump sum and pensions for a surviving partner and dependents,’ a DHSC spokesperson said.


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