The families of doctors putting their lives on the line in the fight against Covid-19 in Wales have been let down, according to the Welsh British Medical Association (BMA).
The Welsh Government announced a scheme that will see eligible beneficiaries receive a one off sum of £60,000 and will apply particularly to those working in frontline roles and locations where personal care is provided to individuals who may have contracted Covid-19.
The scheme is non-contributory and there are no additional costs to employers. The payment will be made in addition to any existing benefits already earned through existing pension scheme membership.
As the number of health workers to tragically die from Covid-19 continues to rise, the BMA had persistently lobbied Welsh Government to provide all NHS staff with full death in service benefits regardless of whether they are a member of the NHS Pension Scheme or not.
Full death in service benefits rejected by Welsh Government
Dr David Bailey, Chair BMA Welsh Council, said: “We are disappointed that our calls for families of doctors working on the frontline to receive full death in service benefits during this pandemic have been rejected by Welsh Government. These dedicated healthcare professionals are working in stressful conditions day in, day out to protect our loved ones, yet have been denied provisions for their own loved ones, should they find themselves paying the ultimate price for their service.
“Whilst this single payment may seem a sizeable sum, it comes nowhere near compensating families for the lifetime income their loved one may have earned if they hadn’t died prematurely, fighting this crisis on the frontline.”
“We are continually asking doctors and other healthcare professionals to put themselves at risk during what is likely to be one of the most testing times of their careers. We are asking so much of them, but they are being denied peace of mind for their families."
It added that they were disappointed that Welsh Government has not followed Scotland’s lead to ensure that the dependants of all those who are putting themselves at risk on the front line, at the request of the Welsh Government, are entitled to full death in service benefits of the NHS pension scheme, as they deserve.
The Welsh scheme would be time-limited, providing cover for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic and will retrospectively apply from the 25 March 2020.
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: "Our frontline workers in the NHS and social care sector are going above and beyond to deliver care and services for patients and to the most vulnerable in our communities across Wales. Their bravery on the frontline of this pandemic is something the whole nation is thankful and proud of.
"The introduction of this scheme I hope will provide peace of mind that their family and loved ones will be supported should the worst happen."