Tuesday, 28 April 2020

£60,000 payout for each NHS staff who die of coronavirus

Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has announced that the families of NHS and social care workers who die after contracting Covid-19 in the course of their duties will each receive £60,000 compensation from the government.

Mr Hancock said that 82 NHS workers and 16 social care staff have already died from coronavirus during the crisis. He added:
“I feel a deep personal sense of duty that we must care for their loved ones.” 
He announced the creation of a new life assurance scheme, funded by the taxpayer, which would support families.

As reported by The Guardian, Mr Hancock has repeatedly been challenged over whether frontline workers have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent them from contracting the disease.

Many doctors and nurses working at the frontline of treating patients with coronavirus say they simply don’t have access to PPE.

A poll last week by the Royal College of Physicians showed that access to PPE has been getting worse in the past three weeks, despite government promises to increase supplies.

In their survey of 2,129 physicians last week, 27 per cent reported being unable to access the protective gear they needed for managing Covid-19 patients.

That compares to 22% in a similar poll conducted on 1 April.

Doctors working in high-risk areas reported that they often could not obtain full-face visors and long sleeved gowns, essential to protect them from catching coronavirus from their patients.

Another survey found one-in-four GPs have had face-to-face consultations with coronavirus patients without PPE due to the country’s chronic shortage of the protective equipment.

The dire situation has prompted six medical royal colleges, that represent more than 166,000 doctors, to write an open letter of complaint to the Government’s new PPE tsar, Lord Paul Deighton.

Their letter called for an urgent meeting to fix ‘the impossible situation’ confronting clinicians, ‘where they have to choose between protecting their own health or their patients.’

Dominic Morgan, former NHS Commissioner and now Disaster Response Director at Inspiral Health told me:
“While it’s good to see the government recognise its initial financial responsibilities for those who have died on the frontline of care, families would much prefer to trade the money for more time with their love ones.
“If only the government’s money had been used to buy the appropriate quantity of PPE in January when we needed it in place.”


Families of health workers who die from coronavirus in the course of their duty should be compensated, but the government cannot get away with thinking they can just ‘buy off’ this problem.

It’s not an accident that NHS staff are dying of Covid-19 whilst treating patients with the same condition. They are more prone to catching the virus because so many of them are not protected from getting it.

Maybe if the government had to pay £1 million for each NHS staff member who dies from Covid-19, they might have been trying much harder these past three months to get the personal protective equipment that every single frontline health worker deserves as an absolute minimum right.

The sum of £60,000 for each dead NHS worker seems a pitifully low sum to compensate for the government’s shocking ineptitude in failing to protect frontline health workers.

The government’s offer is not compensation. It is a grotesque insult.

My grandparents were gassed by the Nazis in the Second World War. The German government offered my father compensation, but he refused to accept it, saying he didn’t want ‘their blood money.’

I was always proud of him for that.

Of course, I am not comparing our government to the actions of the Nazis. But the government cannot be allowed to think that their blood money can cover up their abject failure to save the people who are trying to save us and our loved ones.

Still, I have not heard the word 'sorry' from Matt Hancock for the deaths of NHS staff. Nor any apology from Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

  • £60,000 cannot buy the government their ‘sorry’.
  • £60,000 cannot let the government off the hook.
  • £60,000 does not make it ok.

The loss of so many health workers from Covid-19 whilst doing their duty is a national scandal.

The government must now do everything in their power to ensure that no more health workers at the front line of treating Covid-19 are without PPE.

Lives of doctors, nurses and ancillary health staff must be saved, not sacrificed.

And as for the government’s proposed compensation, it is not nearly enough. It has several zeros missing.
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