Lack of proper death in service cover for doctors putting their lives on the line in the fight against Covid-19 mean that their families will not be looked after if they die.
The British Medical Association said that Westminster politicians clap every Thursday to commend the efforts of our frontline workers, but it’s time for the Government to back up their gestures with definitive action.
It is demanding that it end the procrastination over giving all NHS staff full death in service benefits regardless of whether they are a member of the NHS Pension Scheme or not.
The Scottish Government has already announced a commitment to providing a comprehensive death in service package for all NHS workers imminently, and the BMA is demanding that full protections are put in place in the other UK nations.
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Under current rules, the families of returning doctors, medical students and newly-qualified doctors, locum doctors and those who have opted out of the pension scheme all receive no – or a considerably reduced – benefit should they die while trying to save the lives of others.
For locums specifically, this means if they die on a day they are not scheduled to work, even though they may have contracted Covid-19 while treating Covid-positive patients, their families are not entitled to full benefits.
Government needs to give a simple guarantee to all healthcare workers
The BMA said it has been persistently lobbying on this issue since the very start of this outbreak and the latest demand comes amid growing anguish among healthcare workers at the lack of availability of personal protective equipment and difficulty accessing testing for the illness.
Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA pensions committee chair, said: "Doctors and all healthcare workers are going above and beyond to fight this crisis on the frontline, and as we have tragically seen over recent weeks, many are now losing their lives as they strive to save others.
"PPE shortages and poor access to testing is already taking its emotional toll on doctors, with just under half reporting anxiety, depression and burnout and so it is completely unacceptable that many will have the added emotional weight of knowing that their loved ones may not be looked after should the very worst happen.
"Losing a loved one during these horrific times will be difficult enough for families, without the added pressure of losing what may be their main source of income, leaving them unsure of what the future holds. It is only right and proper that the Government offers full and adequate protection to doctors risking their lives for their patients."