COVID-19: minute’s silence will honour nurses who have died

Unions hope the moment at 11am will bring together ‘a sombre but grateful nation’

Larni Zuniga, one of many nurses who will be remembered tomorrow. Picture: gofundme

A minute’s silence will be observed at 11am on 28 April to honour the memory of nurses and other key workers who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. 

At least 33 nurses, 16 healthcare assistants and two midwives are known to have died in the UK so far, after contracting the disease.

The RCN, Unison and The Royal College of Midwives campaigned for the minute’s silence, and they urge people to join the tribute, which will occur on International Workers’ Memorial Day.

‘Tremendous debt to key workers’

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair said the moment would bring together ‘a sombre but grateful nation’.

She added: ‘Nobody should go out to work and risk their life. The UK and its leaders owes a tremendous debt to these key workers and the many more who are on shift again today.’

Latest reports of nurses who have died

In recent days, details have emerged of more nurses who have died from COVID-19.  

CHD Living head of hospitality, communications and commissioning Shaleeza Hasham paid tribute to ‘treasured nurse’ Larni Zuniga who worked at the company’s Surrey Hills care home.

‘We will be holding a minute's silence in memory of Larni and all other key workers across the country who have sadly lost their lives during this tragic time,’ she said.

Twin sisters die within three days of each other

University Hospital Southampton (UHS) NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Paula Head offered condolences to the family of the trust’s risk and patient safety lead in child health Katy Davis, who died on 21 April after testing positive for COVID-19.

In a message to UHS staff, chief nursing officer Gail Byrne also confirmed that Katy’s twin sister Emma, a former colorectal surgery nurse at the trust, died on 24 April after testing positive for COVID-19.

‘It goes without saying just how devastating and tragic this is for the family and all who knew them,’ she said.

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust chief nurse Lisa Stalley-Green paid tribute to nurse Mahadaye Jagroop, who died on 22 April, describing her as ‘a respected and loved member of our team’.

Life assurance scheme announced for families of staff who die from COVID-19

The families of nursing staff who die from COVID-19 in the course of their work will receive £60,000, the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has announced.

Mr Hancock made the announcement of the life assurance scheme in today's daily press briefing, where he stated a total of 82 NHS staff and 16 social care staff had died from COVID-19.

Mr Hancock said the £60,000 will be available to any NHS or social care front-line staff who die from COVID-19 in the course of their work.

‘Of course nothing replaces the loss of a loved one but we want to do everything we can to support families who are dealing with this grief,’ he said.

RCN general secretary Dame Donna Kinnair welcomed the announcement but added the RCN would be examining the detail closely.

'It must be easily accessed, open to those in social care and primary care too and be paid promptly – no family should face a lengthy or complex process,' Professor Kinnair said.

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