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Letter to Secretary of State Sajid Javid on Coronavirus Life Assurance

30 March 2022

Dear Secretary of State, 

I am writing to raise an urgent concern regarding the imminent end of the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme 2020 in England. 

As you know, 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. While the current life assurance scheme ensures a payment to be made to the estates of those staff who have lost their lives, this is due to expire tomorrow, 31 March 2022. 

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. 

Data from the Health and Safety Executive shows 304 health and care worker deaths since April 2020, including 10 deaths in the three months to 05 March this year. 

The latest data shows in England 13,060 patients in hospitali and an increase of 20% in the last week of deaths occurring within 28 days of a positive testii. We are also seeing an increase in staff absence due to COVID-19 with a 60% increase in staff absences in the NHS in England for the two weeks ahead of Sunday 20 March 2022iii.
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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.

With a distinct possibility of new variants at any point, staff deserve assurances that they and their loved ones will not go unnoticed should they contract and ultimately lose their life to COVID-19. 

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.

Yours Sincerely, 

Pat Cullen

General Secretary & Chief Executive

 

i Data from NHS England All Beds COVID, Weekly COVID Admissions for 22 March.
ii Data from Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK showed 23 March to 29 March there were 765 deaths in England compared to 16 March to 22 March where there were 638 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
iii Data from NHS England showed on Sunday 20 March there were 22,323 staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons. This compared to 13,968 on 6 March. An increase of 59.8%.

Page last updated - 01/04/2022