The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has secured Government approval for 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.
The HPSC reports that 22 healthcare workers have died having contracted Covid as of February 19th, 2022; with the majority of these deaths occurring in the first year of the pandemic.
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 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.”
How much is the Payment?
€100,000 to the legal personal representative (executor/administrator) of the deceased person.
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.
Full list of eligible categories of worker
Eligibility will extend to the estate of all workers who worked in the provision of:
(a) hospital services
(b) 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 (No. 27 of 2005)
(c) services relating to public health, including services relating to:
(i) the identification, tracing and contacting of persons who have been in contact with persons who have been diagnosed, or are suspected of having been infected, with COVID-19, and
(ii) the testing of persons for COVID-19;
(d) laboratory services
(e) drug treatment and addiction services
(f) hospice services
(g) pharmacy services
(h) primary care and general and specialist medical practice activities
(i) dental services
(j) blood donation and related services
(k) tissue or organ donation and related services
(l) 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
(m) homecare, home help and other health services in the community
(n) 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
(o) paramedical, ambulance and pre-hospital care services
(p) services provided by minor injury units
(q) maternity services
(r) food safety and environmental services