Coronavirus: 50 cross-party MPs demand compensation for families of frontline staff who die battling virus

‘They are putting their lives on the line and they should know that, should the worst happen, the state will help their families,’ says Liberal Democrat MP

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 31 March 2020 15:12 BST
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Boris Johnson has been urged to create a new compensation scheme for the families of frontline workers who die while tackling coronavirus.

After the deaths of three doctors in recent days, more than 50 cross-party MPs have written to the prime minister to call for the state to award financial support to key workers’ families if they lose their lives to the virus.

The letter, coordinated by Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, called for help similar to that offered to military families, including a lump sum up front, guaranteed income for families and child payments for those under 18 years old.

It comes as doctors leaders issued a separate call for enhanced financial protections for the families of retired NHS staff returning to the frontline to help with the crisis.

Dr Amged El-Hawrani, a consultant at Queen’s Hospital in Burton, became one of the first medics to die at the weekend after testing positive for Covid-19.

His death came after London-based surgeon Dr Adil El Taylor died last Wednesday from the virus, and Dr Habib Zaidi, a GP in Essex, died in hospital while undergoing treatment for Covid-19 symptoms.

Ms Moran said the scheme should be open to all frontline staff, particularly NHS and social care professionals but also critical workers such as teachers.

She said: “Our gratitude to all those on the frontline, who are working to save and help others, is limitless.

“They are putting their lives on the line and they should know that, should the worst happen, the state will help their families.

“That’s why, while no money could ever compensate for any loss of life, setting up a coronavirus compensation scheme would provide security and comfort for those risking their lives.”

The letter has been signed by a string of senior Tory backbenchers, including ex-police minister Mike Penning, former health minister Dan Poulter and Sir Charles Walker, joint vice-chair of the 1922 Committee.

The move also attracted support from shadow culture secretary Tracy Brabin, Plaid Cymru Westminster leader Liz Saville-Roberts, the DUP’s Jim Shannon and the SNP’s Angus MacNeil, chair of the Commons international trade committee.

More than 2,700 people have signed a petition in support of the scheme.

The appeal comes as the British Medical Association (BMA) called for an automatic extension to enhanced cover for all frontline staff who die while working in the NHS.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said the families of retired staff are not eligible for compensation under current rules, while junior doctors and medical students could also lose out.

He said: “Looking after our healthcare workers has never been more important, and that extends to making sure they and their families are protected, financially, if the worst happens.

“This is not a time to be complacent.

“We know that some doctors have sadly died or developed significant illnesses as a result of this terrible disease, which is why every one of them, be they new to the NHS or returning from retirement, must have access to enhanced death in service cover.”

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