BMA demands answers over Government’s failure to act on death in service benefits for healthcare workers

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: UK
Published: Sunday 26 April 2020

The British Medical Association (BMA) says its frustration grows over the Government’s failure to guarantee that the families of healthcare workers who lose their lives during the fight against COVID-19 will be financially supported in these tragic circumstances1.

The BMA is demanding urgent answers from Westminster to its calls for all healthcare workers to receive full death in service benefits available under the NHS pension scheme, regardless of their length of service or whether they are a current member of the NHS Pension Scheme or not2.

The doctors’ union has persistently lobbied on the issue and last week sent a second letter to the Chancellor3 setting out the association’s key asks.
However, as the death toll continues to rise, the Government is yet to respond to the letter, nor has it offered any detail on its plans. This means the families of many healthcare workers risk being left without vital financial support should the very worst happen to their loved ones on the frontline of the pandemic.

Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA pensions committee chair said: “Another week has passed, more healthcare workers have lost their lives and yet the Government continues to drag its heels.

“This is particularly galling for the many doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who continue to put themselves at risk to protect and care for patients against this deadly virus, with the knowledge that their families will be provided no financial support if the worst should happen. This really is a shambolic, unacceptable and frankly shameful situation.

“To lose a father, wife, mother or husband is tragic enough, but to then face severe financial hardship because there is not adequate support available is absolutely dreadful.

“Last week the Scottish Government committed to providing a comprehensive death in service package for all NHS workers, so why has the Westminster Government so far failed to give us the same assurances in other UK nations?

“We need clarity from the Government on this, and we need it now - too many families are being and will continue to be impacted financially if a loved one dies.”



Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Currently, 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 either severely reduced or zero benefit should they die. For locums specifically, 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. 
  2. The BMA is calling for an automatic extension to full death in service cover for all NHS workers, irrespective of whether they are current members of the NHS pension scheme. This will include locum doctors, academic doctors, returning doctors, those who have been forced to opt out of the NHS Pension Scheme and those such as medical students who have not build up the required two years into their pension scheme, as well as all other dedicated NHS staff, including those who may be unable to afford to join the NHS pension scheme. .
  3. For the BMA’s latest letter to the Chancellor
  4. Read more about death in service benefits

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