NHS and care staff battling the pandemic should receive a military-style active duty bonus in recognition of their service, according to the Liberal Democrats.
The party is calling for the key workers fighting COVID-19 to receive a £29-a-day “front line service reward”, similar to the deployment allowance paid to troops.
Pressing for the payment, acting Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey said NHS and care staff were “risking their lives to protect others” in what was a “national struggle” against the coronavirus.
The bonus forms part of a “front line support package” being called for by the Lib Dems, which also includes the fast track procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).
It comes amid growing criticism of the government over shortages of specialist safety kit, which critics say is putting the lives of doctors and nurses at risk.
Sir Ed said: “The fight against coronavirus is seeing several million key workers risking their lives to protect others.
“NHS and care staff are truly on the front line in this national struggle – putting themselves in danger and working long shifts.
“In our hospitals, care homes, hospices and in the wider health and care sector, an army of workers are protecting us.”
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He added: “The top priority for front line staff is protection.
“We should never ask our military to risk their lives without the proper kit, and we shouldn’t be leaving health and care workers without sufficient protective kit either.
“When the country emerges from this crisis, we must also properly recognise those who were willing to serve and make a sacrifice, just as we do with military forces.
“The government must look at creating a front line service reward, similar to the deployment allowance front line troops receive.
“There are many low-paid workers on the coronavirus front line, and we must show our gratitude.”
Other measures proposed by the party include providing practical help for NHS and care staff such as securing accommodation for key workers self-isolating, or who have vulnerable people in their household.
The Lib Dems also want the government to pay for the funerals of key workers who died in the fight against coronavirus.
The front line service reward would be for the duration of the lockdown, the party said, adding that all key workers should also receive a coronavirus service medal.