• Scheme will not cover managers and other staff not in front-line areas
  • However, health and social care secretary can make exceptions

The families of many NHS managers and other administrative staff will not be eligible to claim the government’s new £60,000 payout for workers who die from coronavirus, HSJ has established.

Managers and other staff will need to have been in close proximity with coronavirus patients if they are to be in a position to claim from the life assurance scheme, announced by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock yesterday.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed today that, to be eligible, NHS and other staff would have to meet a “situational” test. This means that, in the 14 days before they developed coronavirus, they must have been working in “environments or locations where personal care is provided to patients or service users who have, or are suspected to have, contracted coronavirus”,

In addition, coronavirus has to be identified as the cause or contributory factor in their death.

HSJ has been told that, where a hospital has covid-19 in one area, this does not mean the whole hospital will be counted as a “location” for the purposes of the scheme.

Managers who have to spend time on the “shop floor” — such as entering wards or other areas where coronavirus is present — may meet this location test, although it is not clear how much time they will need to spend in these areas to do so. However, many others will be in different parts of the hospital and will be avoiding “hot zones” where coronavirus is known to be present, so will not be eligible.

Earlier in the pandemic, HSJ reported considerable concern among administrative staff who were being asked to come into work at hospitals and other healthcare settings. Many felt refusing to do so would endanger their jobs.

Clinical commissioning group staff, for example, who generally work from offices outside hospitals or in a non-clinical area of hospitals are unlikely to qualify, despite being mentioned in the government’s press release outlining the scheme, unless they have temporarily moved to a front-line role.

Yesterday’s announcement said the payment would be to “front-line health and care workers” but also it would cover those “who work in health or care settings where the virus is present”. The accompanying notes said those eligible would include “front-line staff” employed by trusts, special health authorities, CCGs and NHS England/Improvement. GPs and dentists, and their staff, were also covered as well as those in arms’-length bodies and non-NHS organisations providing NHS-funded services and functions.

However, the health secretary will be able to make exceptions to the rules to enable payouts. So far, no senior managers are known to have died from coronavirus but several listed on the Nursing Notes website were administrators.

Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said: “The life assurance cover announced by the government is an important recognition of the selfless service of our front-line NHS staff.

”We know that some of the CCG nursing workforce who would not normally be on the front-line have been redeployed to clinical roles to provide direct care to very unwell patients; their work must not be forgotten so we welcome the inclusion of such CCG staff in this scheme.”

The £60,000 is in addition to any other death-in-service benefits available to families through the NHS Pension Scheme. Some NHS staff will not be members of this scheme and there had been concern that their families would be left without funds if they died. The scheme also covers many social care workers and those in outsourced services who might not have access to pension schemes offering equivalent benefits.

NHS England declined to comment.