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Pharmacy teams not automatically eligible for COVID-19 life assurance

Families of pharmacists who die from COVID-19 will only receive a death in service payment in “exceptional circumstances”, the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) has said.

The new scheme, which guarantees a £60,000 life assurance payout to the families of “eligible” frontline health and care staff in England who die from the virus, does not automatically cover pharmacy teams.

The scheme was announced by health secretary Matt Hancock at the daily Downing Street COVID-19 briefing yesterday (April 27). However, it will only extend to pharmacists “in exceptional circumstances”, the DH told C+D today (April 28).

It added that, in such situations, “the scheme can consider” cases involving pharmacists. C+D has asked the DH for examples of what these “exceptional circumstances” might be. 

The life assurance scheme is for workers who provide “hands-on personal care” for people who have contracted coronavirus, or those who “work in health or care settings where the virus is present” the DH said in a statement published this morning

In response to this announcement, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) chair Mark Koziol has written to Mr Hancock asking him to include those working in community pharmacies.

He said it would be “utterly perverse and wrong” if pharmacists and their teams are not eligible for the scheme. 

“Community pharmacy has become the front line dealing with the public, many of whom will still present with symptoms of COVID-19,” Mr Koziol added.

The scheme is time-limited, “providing cover for the duration of the pandemic”, as part of the emergency response that came into effect with the implementation of the Coronavirus Act 2020 on March 25, the DH said. 

The health secretary will announce the closure of the scheme “at the conclusion of the emergency response”, it added.

While this life assurance scheme only covers to health and social care staff in England, “Wales is implementing the same scheme and arrangements are being considered in Scotland and Northern Ireland”, the DH said.

Sign the petition asking the DH for life assurance for community pharmacy teams here

Do you think pharmacy workers should be included in the scheme?

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