Coronavirus: Only 19 families of NHS staff who died from virus have had compensation

Only 19 families of frontline workers who died of coronavirus have qualified for a £60,000 payout promised by the government.

New figures show that 51 compensation claims have been made by bereaved families since the scheme was announced in April, with fewer than 20 payments approved by July 8.

Some 540 health workers died of coronavirus between March 9 and May 25, with the final total expected to be higher.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock bowed to pressure from MPs to provide for the families of NHS and social care staff who lost their lives battling coronavirus.

The move was intended to bring Covid heroes in line with frontline troops, in recognition of the risks faced by staff such as nurses, doctors, cleaners and porters during the pandemic.

The shocking deaths of health staff in the early days of of the pandemic prompted bitter recriminations over shortages of protective equipment to keep medics safe.

NHS pensions offer some financial support to bereaved relatives but some medics such as locum doctors and retired people who returned to the frontline during the pandemic were not covered.

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who uncovered the figures through a parliamentary question, said: “It is concerning that so few families of NHS and care workers who tragically died on the frontline against coronavirus have so far benefited from this scheme.

“The government must ensure more is done to promote awareness of this scheme to eligible families.

“No amount of money could ever compensate for any loss of life. But we must honour those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and provide security and comfort for their families.

“I would also like to see this scheme extended to all key workers who have been on the frontline against this pandemic, including those working in transport.

“All of these essential workers have put their lives at risk to protect others, and they should be reassured that if the worst happens the state will step in to help their loved ones.”

Health Minister Helen Whately, who released the figures, said the families would receive lump sum payments once probate had been completed.

An NHS medic wears protective kit as she works in the intensive care unit at the Royal Papworth Hospital, in Cambridge.

Mr Hancock announced plans for the bereavement payments in April, adding: “Of course, nothing replaces the loss of a loved one but we want do everything we can to help these families dealing with grief.”

Doctors leaders’ welcomed the fund but said it did not go far enough to help families, many of whom would have lost their main breadwinner.

Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA Pensions Committee, said: “Losing loved ones who worked in the health service during Covid-19 is difficult enough.

“Grieving families and partners should not have to suffer the additional pressures created by the loss of what may be their main source of income as well.

“There should not be any barriers to claiming for people who are eligible, and the Government should do everything it can to encourage applications and make the process as simple as possible, as well as ensuring there are minimal delays in receiving compensation.”


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