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State will pay €100,000 to families of healthcare workers who died of Covid

The HPSC reports that 22 healthcare workers have died having contracted Covid.

LAST UPDATE | Mar 8th 2022, 1:18 PM

FAMILIES OF HEALTHCARE workers who died having contracted Covid-19 in the course of their work are to received a tax-free payment of €100,000.

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. 

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly secured government approval today for the scheme which specifies that 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. 

Speaking to reporters today, Donnelly said that while “no amount will compensate for the loss” of a relative, the payment is “a good amount by international standards”. 

“We wanted to do something to recognise everything that happened and the extraordinary sacrifices made, tragically in this case the ultimate sacrifice. The HSE has identified 22 healthcare professionals, there may be more, please god there won’t be any more, but this is not confined just to those already identified,” he said. 

Eligibility will extend to the estate of all workers who worked in the provision of:

  • hospital services
  • therapy services provided by a member of a designated profession within the meaning of section 3 of the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005
  • services relating to public health, including services relating to contact tracing, the testing of persons for Covid-19, laboratory services, drug treatment and addiction services
  • pharmacy services
  • primary care and general and specialist medical practice activities
  • dental services
  • blood donation and related services
  • issue or organ donation and related services
  • residential care services (including nursing care, mental health and substance abuse services, services for elderly persons and persons with disabilities) and children’s residential services
  • homecare, home help and other health services in the community
  • social work and social care services, (including disability services, mental health services, child protection and welfare services, domestic, sexual and gender-based violence services) and homeless services including homeless outreach services
  • paramedical, ambulance and pre-hospital care services
  • services provided by minor injury units
  • maternity services
  • food safety and environmental services

How can eligible families apply?

The Department of Health is working with Pobal to put in place arrangements. The application process is being designed to be straightforward. Further details will be made available as soon as possible, said the department. 

Donnelly said today that relatively small number of people involved means the government can “move quickly” when the application process is finalised. 

In developing this scheme, the department considered what arrangements are in place in other countries, including the NHS, which makes a payment of £60,000 to families in similar circumstances. 

Minister 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,” he said. 

The minister said the Government are 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”. 

He added that it is also 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. 

“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,” said the minister. 

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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