U.K. Government “life assurance scheme” for families of healthcare workers who have died from coronavirus

On 27 April 2020 the UK Government announced a life assurance scheme under which the families of eligible frontline health and care staff in England who die from coronavirus will be entitled to a £60,000 payment.

The details of the scheme are so far minimal, but the Government has stated in their press release that:

  • The scheme will cover frontline NHS staff and social care workers in England (staff who provide hands-on personal care for people who have contracted coronavirus or work in health or care settings where the virus is present);
  • Bereaved family members will receive a £60,000 lump sum worth roughly twice the average pensionable pay for NHS staff, with the cost met by the government;
  • Employers will be asked to initiate claims on behalf of the individual’s families and claims will be verified and processed by the NHS Business Services Authority[1];
  • The scheme is time-limited to the duration of the pandemic;
  • Importantly, the Government has indicated that in accepting an award under this scheme, families will not waive their rights to pursue legal action arising from the death of their family member.

The scheme is a welcome recognition by the Government of the ultimate service rendered by health and social care staff in the face of the pandemic, and the devastating impact the sudden loss of a loved one has upon their families.

However, while the scheme seems generous, if the death was the result of government failures. i.e. a lack of provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) , the lump sum could well be insufficient when compared to damages which can be awarded by a Court.

A civil claim brought by the family of a deceased health care worker can determine liability for a death and can award damages for surviving dependent children.

If you would like advice information in relation to an inquest and/or compensation you may be able to claim following the death of a family member as a frontline health and social care worker please feel free to contact Matthew Gold & Co on 020 8445 9268 or info@matthewgold.co.uk.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-guarantee-on-death-in-service-benefits-for-frontline-health-and-care-staff-during-pandemic