Dear Prime Minister,
As you know, there have been deaths within the health and care workforce due to COVID-19, with over thirty nursing staff having passed away at the time of writing. Each one was a huge loss to our profession, to their communities and their loved ones. I cannot begin to imagine how their families and friends are feeling.
All of these staff have died in the service of our health and care system. However, despite repeated representations by the RCN, other unions and professional bodies, I wish to raise our concern that there is yet to be an announcement from the UK government on death in service benefits and financial support for the families of those who have died fighting the pandemic.
Our members deserve immediate reassurance from the UK government that it is committed to supporting families whose loved ones have died protecting us. I am deeply concerned that there is yet to be an announcement on this issue, particularly as some of these families will be facing financial difficulty as well as the loss of their loved one.
It is our position that these benefits need to be retrospective, in effect, from the start of the pandemic and must apply to all health and care staff, regardless of their length of service or the setting in which they were working. This must include those who have bravely returned to service, and all students who join the fight against the pandemic.
The families of those who have died in service deserve reassurance that the UK government is supporting them at this difficult time.
Dame Donna Kinnair
Chief Executive & General Secretary