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RCN: Extend Covid life assurance scheme for nurses

RCN: Extend Covid life assurance scheme for nurses
closeup hand applaud from doctor and nurse support,Clapping medical workers blur hospital background

The RCN has urged ministers to extend a scheme in England that provided financial support for families of healthcare staff who died of Covid-19 in the pandemic.

Families of staff who contracted Covid-19 at work and died were entitled to £60,000 compensation under the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance scheme, which was introduced at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic but ended on 31 March.

The RCN has written to health and social care secretary Sajid Javid arguing ‘now is not the right time’ to remove the scheme because of rising Covid cases and staff absences because of the virus.

In the letter, Pat Cullen, RCN chief executive, said nursing staff ‘deserve assurances that they and their loved ones will not go unnoticed should they contract and ultimately lose their life to Covid-19′, warning there is the ‘distinct possibility of new variants at any point’.

She continued: ‘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…

‘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 latest ONS data shows about one in every 13 people in the UK has coronavirus. NHS England data also shows there was a 60% increase in staff absences in the NHS in England for the two weeks ahead of Sunday 20 March 2022.

Meanwhile, Health and Safety Executive data shows 304 health and care worker deaths since April 2020, including 10 deaths in the three months to 5 March this year.

This comes after NHS England said nurses in general practice can refer patients for free testing if a Covid diagnosis is required ‘to support clinical decisions’.

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