Compensation doubt for families of nurses who died from COVID-19
Some bereaved families have received £60,000 payouts but others could lose out as life assurance schemes close, though ‘death in service’ benefits continue
More than 700 bereaved families have so far received a £60,000 compensation payment following the death of a health or care worker from COVID-19.
However, there are fears others could be left struggling following the closure of life assurance schemes across the UK.
Dependents of nurses and other health and care workers who died from COVID-19 were able to claim a one-off lump sum under separate life assurance schemes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The schemes have now closed but bereaved families have up to a year from the cutoff dates to make a claim.
The latest figures from the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) show 704 families have so far claimed under the English and Welsh NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme 2020.
RCN says families of nursing staff who lose their loved ones to the virus may now not receive compensation
In England 760 claims have been made, with 667 paid and 44 rejected, while in Wales 42 claims have been made with 37 accepted and paid. The remaining claims in both countries are awaiting further information.
In Northern Ireland five local claims have been made. The Scottish government did not respond to requests for information.
With winter approaching and COVID-19 still present in health and care settings there are fears it may claim the lives of more nurses and care staff. Due to the scheme closing their families will not be eligible for compensation.
The RCN has called for the schemes to continue. RCN associate director of employment relations Brian Morton said: ‘While we have been assured that there remains a further 12-month window to allow families time to bring forward outstanding claims in respect of deaths which occurred while the schemes were open, we remain concerned this will leave others without the protection they may need and deserve.
‘COVID-19 has not gone away, and it is unacceptable that the families of nursing staff who lose their loved ones to the virus will now not receive compensation. This needs to be reversed immediately.’
NHS staff will continue to be eligible for ‘death in service benefits’, DHSC says
Both the English and Northern Ireland governments said the scheme was intended to be time-limited and closed when the number of COVID-related deaths fell sharply.
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: 'The scheme was always intended to be time-limited and closed on 30 June 2022 as by this point the number of staff deaths had fallen sharply, with the availability and roll-out of the vaccination programme, and reduced the need for an exceptional life assurance scheme.'
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘NHS staff continue to be eligible for death in service benefits via membership of the NHS Pension Scheme in the normal way.’
Meanwhile, the method of reporting COVID deaths of nurses and other health and care staff in England was revised in April, meaning employers are no longer obliged to report deaths where someone caught the virus through general transmission from a colleague or member of the public.
This means nurses’ deaths in health and social care will only be reported to the Health and Safety executive if they caught COVID-19 after working in a ward, care home or other setting where patients or residents were known to have the virus.
Cutoff dates for COVID-19 life assurance schemes around the UK
- England – Closed on 31 March 2022. Claimants have until 31 March 2023 to submit claims for deaths that occurred while the scheme was open
- Wales – Closed on 30 June 2022. Claimants have until 30 June 2023 to submit claims
- Scotland – Closed 30 June 2022. Claimants have until 30 June 2023 to submit claims
- Northern Ireland – Closed 31 March 2022. Claimants have until 31 March 2023 to submit claims
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