The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

It seems a long time ago now, but when the pandemic first hit in the UK, coronavirus deaths of health and care staff from it was one of the biggest stories in the news.

Unions rightly demanded that staff caring for patients were properly protected, and after a long struggle to source, buy, test and deliver PPE, they are.

NHS England today said it has four months’ supply stockpiled.

But figures obtained by HSJ showed less than half of those eligible to claim the £60,000 death in service award on behalf of a family member have done so.

The life assurance scheme announced by Matt Hancock has agreed applications totalling more than £11m, with 225 claims received. But ONS data puts the total number of frontline staff dying of covid-19 at 547.

Unions and lawyers urged trusts and the governments to make it easier.

The claims do not preclude further claims but lawyers would have to show the infection was picked up because of a lack of PPE, rather than something else.

39,000 reasons to be annoyed

The flu vaccination programme has taken on more importance than usual this year. With a second wave of covid, the NHS has been keen to ensure as many vulnerable people as possible are vaccinated.

That’s vital to keep flu-related admissions to hospitals as low as possible but also to ensure people don’t end up with both flu and covid – a combination which seems to have particularly bad outcomes. Trying to target the most vulnerable means pinpointing certain characteristics – a job for coders at NHS Digital.

Unfortunately, something went wrong and those with a past history of glandular fever were classified as immunosuppressed and told to contact their GP practice to arrange a vaccination. Some 39,000 letters were sent out before the error was spotted – leading some patients to call surgeries, trying to arrange an appointment, and understandably annoyed GPs.