Scottish Government to compensate families of NHS staff who have died

Families of NHS staff in Scotland who have died of coronavirus will be compensated, with details of a scheme paying a lump sum and survivor benefits to be announced on Friday, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

It came as the UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said staff in England would receive a death-in-service payment of £60,000 as it was revealed that 82 NHS workers and 16 care staff have lost their lives in the outbreak.

Scotland will receive funding through the Barnett Formula from the UK Government’s compensation scheme.

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Talks are already underway between the Scottish Government, the British Medical Association and other health unions over how payments will be structured.

A woman wearing a face mask walking past a 'Thank You' to NHS staff and key workers banner

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A Scottish Government spokesperson said that all staff directly employed by NHS Scotland Boards including NHS Bank and NHS locum staff would be covered.

“We are working with partners to finalise the scheme’s terms and conditions and aim to publish further details by 1 May, with scheme benefits applying retrospectively, to ensure that no-one is disadvantaged,” the spokesperson said.

At the daily coronavirus press briefing at Downing Street, Mr Hancock said: “Of course, nothing replaces the loss of a loved one but we want to do everything we can to support families who are dealing with this grief.”

He added: “I feel a deep personal sense of duty that we must care for their loved ones.”

The UK Government is also looking at what support it can offer to other frontline professions who did not have access to a life assurance scheme, Mr Hancock said.

Labour welcomed the announcement of a compensation scheme, but kept up pressure on the government over shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health and care staff.

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone, who has called for bereaved families of health workers to be supported, said the scheme should be based on the Armed Forces Compensation Fund

“One of my very best friends literally owes his life to the frontline healthcare workers who saved him,” Mr Stone said.

“For this very personal reason, I am grateful to the Health Secretary for this change of heart. I know how much it will mean to so many people up and down the UK.

“The Armed Forces Compensation Scheme has been a great source of support to many suffering families who have lost their loved ones in war. We needn’t reinvent the wheel.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said the coronavirus epidemic in the UK still has a “very long way to run” and there was “no perfect solution” to easing the lockdown, adding there were “difficult choices” to be made.

Death toll expected to rise

A total of 21,092 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Sunday, up by 360 from 20,732 the day before – with the figure expected to rise due to a delay in registrations over the weekend.

Some 29,058 tests had been carried out in England, Scotland and Wales in the 24 hours up to 9am on Saturday, according to the latest figures, suggesting the Government is way off its 100,000 a day target set for this Thursday.

Mr Hancock said the Government was “broadly where we expected to be” in terms of testing capacity but admitted there was a lot of work to do to hit the 100,000 a day goal.

He added: “It is important to note that we have already gone past the number of tests, per day, for instance, that they carry out in South Korea.

“We are approaching the levels that Germany undertakes.”

Mr Hancock said the number of patients attending A&E had fallen to 221,000 in the last week from 477,000 in the same week last year, as he urged people in need to use the NHS.

“In some cases we know that the drop is due to people not coming forward and using the NHS for critical things that matter,” he said.

“Our message is that the NHS is open. Help us to help you.”

The NHS in England will restart some vital services, including cancer care, from Tuesday, starting with the most urgent cases first, as 42 per cent of oxygen supported beds set aside for coronavirus are currently empty.

Cancer care and mental health support will be the first to be restarted, with Mr Hancock saying the “exact pace of the restoration” will be determined by hospitals based on how many Covid-19 patients they still have.

More than 15,000 people submitted questions as yesterday’s press conference was opened up to the public for the first time, with plans to answer one of them a day.

The first question, from a woman in Skipton, was: “I’m missing my grandchildren so much. Please can you let me know if, after the five criteria are met, is being able to hug our closest family one of the first steps out of lockdown?”

Suggesting some reunions may be possible at some point, Prof Whitty said it would depend on whether the woman was shielding due to an underlying condition.

He added: “It is important that people who are vulnerable continue to be protected.”