Britain’s government will pay £60,000 (€68,000) to the families of NHS and social care staff who die from COVID-19 “in the course of their essential frontline work”, Health Minister Matt Hancock announced on Monday.
Bereaved families will receive a £60,000 payment as part of a new “Life Assurance Scheme”, Hancock said from Downing Street where he delivered the government’s daily press briefing on the pandemic.
“Of course, nothing replaces the loss of a loved one, but we want to do everything that we can to support families who are dealing with this grief,” he said.
The number of COVID-19 deaths recorded in British hospitals rose by 360 on Monday to 21,092. Eighty-two NHS staff and 16 social care workers are among the fatalities, Hancock said.
He added that the government is also looking “at other professions that work on the frontline against coronavirus, who also do not have access to such schemes, to see where this may be required.”
The Unison union has welcomed the announcement, with general secretary Dave Prentis highlighting that “until now, the relatives of any low-paid health worker who died and had opted out of the NHS pension scheme would have received nothing. Nor would the families of care workers on precarious contracts.”
“It’s only right the families of all those who worked for the NHS or in social care, and who’ve sadly lost their lives to the virus, are properly provided for,” he added.
A recent poll by YouGov found that over half of NHS workers had been working additional hours since the outbreak began with one in five saying they are working much more than usual.
The number of NHS staff who rate their current feelings of anxiety as eight out of ten or higher has tripled over the past two months from 9% previously to 27% at the moment.