RCN urge extension to life assurance scheme for nursing staff who get Covid at work

The Government is being urged to extend a life assurance scheme for nursing staff who contract Covid at work.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that after this week, nursing staff who die from Covid-19 will not be entitled to a life assurance payment, even though infection rates are rising and a growing number are catching the virus.

The RCN has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care calling for an urgent extension to the Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance scheme, which entitles families of nursing staff and others who die from Covid-19 to financial support, which was was due to expire on Thursday.

The RCN said if the scheme is not extended, it will mean families of health and care staff who contract Covid-19 at work and then die from today will not be entitled to compensation worth £60,000.

With Covid-19 cases surging following the lifting of restrictions, and with warnings of new, severe variants to come, the RCN says now is not the time to end the scheme.

In the letter to Sajid Javid, the RCN’s general secretary Pat Cullen (pictured) said: “Hundreds of health and care staff have lost their life to Covid-19, which they contracted as part of their vital work on the frontline during the pandemic.

“The over-riding 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. Now is not the right time to remove the reassurance that if the worst were to happen to nursing staff delivering frontline care then 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.”

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 dependents.”

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