The government has been chastised for terminating a UK-wide scheme that gave financial assistance to the families of pandemic-related health and social care workers.
Families of employees who contract COVID at work and die do not qualify for the £60,000 payout.
According to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), now is not the time to cease.
Ministers claim that the scheme was always meant to be temporary and that there are alternative death-in-service benefits available.
The RCN, on the other hand, has written to Health Secretary Sajid Javid, requesting that life assurance payments be extended.
Even though vaccines are helping to prevent everyone, especially NHS personnel, from severe COVID, occasional deaths continue to occur.
According to official data for England, Scotland, and Wales, 304 NHS employees have died as a result of COVID exposure at work, with 10 of the deaths occurring since the beginning of December 2021.
“Ending this scheme now is insensitive to the workers working in health and social care under pandemic conditions,” RCN chief executive Pat Cullen said.
In her letter to Mr Javid, she writes: “The overarching premise must be that no member of the nursing staff who dies this year should be treated any differently than one who dies in 2020 or 2021 in terms of respect and family support.
At a COVID death memorial service conducted last week for NHS frontline employees, the Rev Paul Nash, chaplain at Birmingham and Women’s Children’s Hospital, said staff and caregivers risked their “mental and physical health,” with many making the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
According to a representative for the Department of Health and Social Care, “Every fatality caused by this virus is a tragedy, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one.
“The Life Assurance Scheme was created to recognise the high danger faced by frontline NHS and social care workers working during the pandemic’s peak times, and it was always intended to be temporary.”