The British Medical Association has called on the chancellor to ensure all NHS workers who die after treating coronavirus patients receive the same level of death benefits.

BMA council chairman Chaand Nagpaul urged chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak to automatically extend enhanced death in service cover to all NHS workers, including those returning on a temporary basis and regardless of whether they are an active member of the pension scheme.

The BMA is also calling for there to be a minimum amount payable so that junior doctors and lower-paid staff receive a fair entitlement.

The NHS Pension Scheme provides a tax-free lump sum payment equivalent to two times annual salary as well as pension benefits for six months to families of doctors who have died while being active members of the scheme.

But members who are no longer paying into the scheme face reduced benefits, and retired doctors called back into service to tackle the coronavirus crisis will not be eligible for any pay-out.

The BMA also warned the chancellor that locum GPs, who operate on a self-employed basis, would not receive any death benefits if they died on a day they were not contracted to work.

Also, junior doctors and medical students who have only recently joined the pension scheme and have less than two years’ experience will not have accrued many pension benefits, so the amount payable on death will be low and will not include any pension payments.

Mr Nagpaul added: “We know that health care workers are not immune to the effects of [Covid-19]. Indeed, their work exposes them to the potential of greater infection load.

“Sadly, some doctors have died or developed significant illness as a result of this disease. It is therefore essential that all staff and their families are protected if the worst happens.”

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