Death in service ex-gratia scheme for healthcare workers announced

By Paul Mulholland - 08th Mar 2022 | 286 views

The Government has approved a scheme to make a tax-free payment of €100,000 to the estate of any healthcare worker who has died having contracted Covid-19 in the course of their work.

Eligibility has been specified broadly – all healthcare workers who were designated ‘essential’ during the first phases of the pandemic will be included.

This includes GPs and others working in primary care, including administrative staff. It also includes disability services staff, private staff in nursing homes and throughout the healthcare system.

This payment is in addition to any other arrangements a person may have in place or benefit that may be payable on death and does not impact their legal rights. It will be made in addition to any other benefit that may be payable and will be open to the families of workers from across the healthcare system who have passed away.

The Department of Health is working with Pobal, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), and other relevant parties to put in place a straightforward application process for impacted families.

Pobal works on behalf of Government to support communities and local agencies toward achieving social inclusion and development – they have substantial experience in managing payment schemes. The HPSC has responsibility for surveillance of Covid-19 cases in Ireland. Further details on the application process will be announced shortly.

In developing this scheme, consideration was given to the arrangements that are in place in other countries, including the NHS and Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme 2020, which makes a payment of £60,000 to families in similar circumstances.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said: “When this pandemic began, there were no vaccines, and our understanding of Covid-19 was limited. Nevertheless, we had to ask healthcare workers to come to work in workplaces where we knew Covid was present. They were required to assume an unknown level of risk in their work, a level that had not existed before, and they took on that risk. The Government has already taken steps to recognise this phenomenal dedication; but in a small number of cases, the worst happened, and something more is appropriate.

“Many healthcare workers contracted Covid-19 (over 39,000 according to the HPSC). Most of those cases were reported in the most recent waves of infection, and, thankfully, vaccinations have meant that the vast majority of people recovered. Unfortunately, a small number of healthcare workers contracted Covid-19 in work and sadly passed away.

“Since the first death occurred, this has been of significant concern to myself and my colleagues in Government and I am now putting in place this scheme to try to alleviate any short-term financial hardship the families of healthcare worker who lost their lives may be suffering; and as a gesture of further recognition on behalf of the people of Ireland”.

This payment is in addition to any other arrangements a person may have in place, for example HSE employees may be entitled to an injury grant based on a multiple of salary.

Minister Donnelly said: “I am keenly aware of tragic cases where families have been left without any income, for example where a worker was a locum or temporary worker. This payment will mean that these families will have some support from the state to provide for their needs and serves as an acknowledgment of our debt of gratitude to the extraordinary sacrifices their loved ones made to protect others.”

The HPSC reports that 22 healthcare workers have died having contracted Covid as of 19 February , 2022; with the majority of these deaths occurring in the first year of the pandemic.

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