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Ministers must extend life assurance scheme for nursing staff contracting COVID-19 at work, insists RCN

1 Apr 2022

Nursing staff who die from COVID-19 after this week will not be entitled to a life assurance payment despite ongoing loss of life.

black and white close up of nurse in mask With infection rates rising and growing numbers of staff catching the virus, the RCN is calling on the UK government to extend the scheme.

Ten health and care workers died in the three months to 5 March this year following workplace exposure, according to the Health and Safety Executive.

The NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance scheme, which entitles families of nursing staff and others who die from COVID-19 to financial support, ended in England yesterday (31 March).

The RCN has written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care calling for an urgent extension to the scheme.

If the scheme is not extended, it will mean the families of health and care staff who contract COVID-19 at work and then die from today (1 April) 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 a letter to Sajid Javid, RCN General Secretary & Chief Executive Pat Cullen says: “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 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. Now is not the right time to remove the reassurance that if the worst were to happen to nursing staff delivering frontline care, 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.”

Page last updated - 01/04/2022