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Contact with ‘suspected’ Covid a requirement for scheme

Health workers who die from Covid-19 must have been working in care settings where there are patients known or “suspected” of having coronavirus in the two weeks before their own symptoms began in order for their families to qualify for the Government’s controversial new ‘death in service’ scheme, it has been revealed.

More details have been made available on the eligibility for the life assurance scheme, which will offer £60,000 to the families of eligible frontline workers who die from Covid-19.

Healthcare professionals providing “hands on care” to patients with Covid-19 and people working in settings where the virus is known to be present are covered, with some NHS employees such as those working in GP surgeries or dental practices among those included in the scheme.

However, the Department of Health and Social Care claims that only in “exceptional circumstances” will pharmacists meet these criteria, and so the scheme does not automatically extend to them or their teams at present, despite a reference to "wider non-NHS organisations who provide NHS-funded services" being covered.

This has prompted widespread anger in the community pharmacy sector and prompted urgent calls from pharmacy bodies for the Government to revise its position.

Who qualifies for the payment?

In light of recent reports of community pharmacists and pharmacy technicians dying from coronavirus, Pharmacy Network News approached the DHSC for more information on the eligibility criteria and in what circumstances the Government will be prepared to offer a payout to the families of pharmacy workers.

The DHSC told PNN it will apply both ‘occupational’ and ‘situational’ tests to establish eligibility, namely:

  • The individual was employed in a role covered by the scheme
  • It can be proved that the individual had worked “in environments or locations where personal care is provided to patients or service users who have, or suspected to have, contracted coronavirus” in the two weeks before their symptoms emerged
  • Coronavirus was the cause or a contributory factor in the individual’s death.

The DHSC added: “Employers or the deceased’s legal representatives 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, who will work with employers to ensure claims are handled swiftly and sensitively.”

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