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Boris Johnson has been told to better publicise a Covid-19 life assurance scheme after it emerged the government had made just two payouts for key worker deaths on the front line.
Despite at least 300 health and social care workers losing their lives after contracting the disease, just 21 claims for the £60,000 had been successful as of July 23 – and only two families had received the cash so far.
Now, a cross-party group of MPs has written to the prime minister calling on him to actually advertise the payout scheme, announced by his health secretary Matt Hancock in April.
The letter, signed by 25 MPs and peers, calls on the government to “rapidly design and implement a dignified advertising campaign to raise awareness for the scheme amongst workers and their families.” It is signed 13 Lib Dems, nine from Labour and two from the SNP.
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who coordinated the letter and campaigned for the scheme, said: “The low take-up of the scheme so far is extremely worrying. It suggests there is an issue with lack of awareness and that some are at risk of missing out.
“The government urgently needs to get the NHS, GPs and other employers round the table and set up an advertising campaign to raise awareness of this scheme.
“We must ensure that families of NHS and care workers who tragically die on the front line against coronavirus receive support in their time of need.”
It comes after senior doctors warned this week that healthcare workers could be missing out.
Giving evidence to the cross-party inquiry on coronavirus last week, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association’s Council, said the scheme needed to be “disseminated much more visibly to healthcare workers. It’s really important for their dependants to know that they can be looked after and given some support.”
A Freedom of Information investigation by HuffPost UK found the NHS Business Services Authority, which is managing the scheme, had – as of late July – received 58 claims for the cash payout since it was officially opened on May 20.
Of the 40 that had been assessed, 21 had been accepted, while 15 “require[d] further information” from either the NHS or claimant.
Another four were still being looked at by a panel and at risk of refusal, and a further 18 claims were still waiting to be assessed.
Claims are “time-limited”, the Department for Health and Social Care has said, with the duration of the policy “under review” and set to stick to a six-month sunset clause.
HuffPost UK has contacted the government for comment.