Death-in-service benefits for all healthcare workers

by Jennifer Trueland

The BMA has welcomed confirmation from the Scottish Government that the families of all doctors who die as part of the coronavirus effort will be supported financially.

Location: Scotland
Published: Thursday 14 May 2020
Lewis Morrison portrait

Ministers have said that full death-in-service benefits will be extended to all healthcare workers, including those who have left the NHS pension scheme.

The BMA had lobbied for benefits to be made available to families of returning doctors, medical students, locums, and others who would previously have received reduced or no financial assistance should their loved ones die in service.

Loved ones

BMA Scotland council chair Lewis Morrison (pictured above) said it was a welcome announcement.

‘Doctors and the wider healthcare workforce have risen to the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic with incredible dedication and commitment. The very least they need to know is that, should the very worst happen and they die from COVID-19 as a result of doing their job, their loved ones will be cared for and receive the long-term support that we are all agreed they should have.

‘Today’s welcome announcement from the Scottish Government ensures that is unequivocally the case for all. It is something the BMA have pushed for on an almost daily basis, and we are glad that in Scotland the Government has listened and responded.’

For life

Dr Morrison particularly welcomed the fact that the extended scheme covers doctors who have left the NHS pension scheme.

‘It means families won’t simply get a one-off payment, but the lifetime benefits that are a key advantage of the NHS pension scheme. That will include some of those at the lower end of the pay scale who may not be protected due to being unable to afford scheme membership, the new volunteers who are putting themselves forward on to the frontline and those members of existing workforce who due to range of issues are less well assured.’

On the job

He said it also closed loopholes for bank staff and locums – including locum GPs – whose families may have been denied access to death-in-service cover because they did not die on a day when they happened to be employed.

‘Of course, we very much hope that these provisions will never be required, but the simple fact of their existence will provide peace of mind to many faced with the stress of working in hugely challenging circumstances,’ Dr Morrison added. 'More than anything it sends an important signal that the Scottish Government is committed to protecting staff across the health service and doing the right thing for them. We very much hope that approach feeds through into the long-term approach to the health service and the incredible people that staff it.'

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