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COVID-19 death in service: nurses’ families need support to claim pay-out

Unions urge higher take-up of NHS and social care coronavirus life assurance scheme
Man sits on floor next to child, both are looking sad

Some relatives have been misled about their eligibility, says GMB union

Health unions are urging bereaved relatives of nursing staff who died with COVID-19 to apply for a special death in service payment.

They say more must be done to make it easier for families to access the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme 2020 – fewer than half of those potentially eligible for its £60,000 pay out have made claims so far.

There have been around 300 applications to date, even though the number of staff who have died now stands at 646, according to the Office for National Statistics .

Some relatives have been misled about their eligibility, says GMB union

Man sits on floor next to child, both are looking sad
Picture: iStock

Health unions are urging bereaved relatives of nursing staff who died with COVID-19 to apply for a special death in service payment.

They say more must be done to make it easier for families to access the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme 2020 – fewer than half of those potentially eligible for its £60,000 pay out have made claims so far.

There have been around 300 applications to date, even though the number of staff who have died now stands at 646, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The scheme is designed to help families of NHS health staff and those working in social care in England who die after contracting the virus at work. Other parts of the UK have similar provision.

Confusion about eligibility for death in service scheme

Susan Masters, RCN

GMB national officer, Rachel Harrison said: ‘There are still families of many health and social care workers who have died during COVID-19 that have not made a claim.

‘We have been assured by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) that it has re-issued messages about the scheme to all health and social care workers.’

‘Governments must work with employers to ensure nursing staff, and their families, know what they are entitled to and how to apply’

Susan Masters, director of nursing policy and public affairs, RCN

Ms Harrison believes there is confusion over who is eligible for the scheme.

She said some families have been wrongly advised they cannot apply, and the union has had to assist a number of relatives with the application process.

‘We have raised this issue with DHSC and have been told that employers have been notified that it is not their responsibility to determine who is eligible – it is their responsibility to notify details of the scheme and provide an application and authorising signature.’

In cases where there is doubt about whether the deceased contracted the virus at work, a health minister adjudicates.

Who is eligible and how to apply to death in service scheme

  • The families and dependents of deceased NHS staff and those working in social staff who died after contracting the virus at work can apply to the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme through the deceased’s employer
  • Students are covered by the scheme if they were on paid placement when they contracted coronavirus. Those on normal clinical placement are not automatically covered in the event of their death but applications can be considered

Further information and application form

Entitlement information for families

RCN director of nursing policy and public affairs, Susan Masters said: ‘Governments must work with employers to ensure nursing staff, and their families, know what they are entitled to and how to apply.’

A spokesperson for the DHSC said: ‘Hundreds of claims have been accepted so far and we are working with employers to ensure all eligible families can benefit,’ the official said.

Remembering nursing staff who have lost their lives


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