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Covid: Nurses’ boss wants life assurance scheme extended for NHS staff

This article was taken from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-60943913

 

 

 

 

 

 

By BBC Health News

 

 

 

 

 

 

The government has been called “disrespectful” for ending a scheme in England that provided financial support to families of deceased health and social care workers in the pandemic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Families of staff who contract Covid at work and then die are no longer entitled to the £60,000 compensation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) says it is not the right time to stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ministers say the scheme was always intended to be time-limited and there are other death in-service benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Similar life assurance policies remain open in Wales and Scotland. The policy in Northern Ireland, like England, closed on 31 March 2022.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The RCN has written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid calling for an extension of life assurance payments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although vaccines are helping to protect people, including NHS staff, against severe Covid, some deaths are still occurring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Official records for England, Scotland and Wales say 304 NHS staff have died from Covid following workplace exposure, including 10 since the start of December 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RCN chief executive Pat Cullen said: “Ending this scheme now is disrespectful to staff continuing to work under pandemic conditions in health and social care.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her letter to Mr Javid says: “The overriding principle must be that no member of nursing staff who loses their life this year should be afforded any less respect and family support than one who died in 2020 or 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The pandemic is far from over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking at a Covid death memorial service held last week for NHS frontline workers, Rev Paul Nash, chaplain at Birmingham and Women’s Children Hospital, said staff and carers sacrificed their “mental and physical health”, with many paying the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We will never, ever forget and we will be forever grateful,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy, and our deepest sympathies go out to anyone who has lost a loved one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Life Assurance Scheme was introduced to recognise the exceptional risk faced by frontline NHS and social care staff working at peak periods of the pandemic, and 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 dependants.”