In September, Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, opened applications for the Death in Service Ex-Gratia Scheme for healthcare worker who died, having contracted COVID-19 in the course of their work.
Following cabinet approval for the scheme in March this year, the Department of Health worked with Pobal to put in place, what it termed, a straightforward application process for impacted families. The scheme consists of a tax-free payment of €100,000 to the estate of any healthcare worker who died having contracted COVID-19 in the course of their work.
Eligibility has been specified broadly with all healthcare workers designated ‘essential’ during the first phases of the pandemic 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.
The Department of Health said this payment was in addition to any other arrangements a person might have in place or benefit that might be payable on death and did not impact their legal rights. “It will be made in addition to any other benefit that may be payable and is open to the families of workers from across the healthcare system who have passed away.”
Minister Donnelly said, “It offers another means for us as a country to recognise the significant contribution our healthcare workers made to Ireland’s response to COVID-19. Since March 2020, we have asked them to assume an unknown level of risk in their work, and, unfortunately, many healthcare workers contracted COVID-19 in work and a small number sadly passed away.
“Myself and my colleagues in Government are aware of tragic cases where families have been left without income at a time of extraordinary grief. This payment offers some support from the state to provide for the family’s needs, while also serving as a real acknowledgement of the debt of gratitude all of us across the country feel to the extraordinary sacrifices of their loved ones.”
Applications for the Death in Service scheme can be made through Pobal, which works on behalf of Government to support communities and local agencies toward achieving social inclusion and development. Pobal has substantial experience in managing payment schemes. It is possible that some claims may be paid at end 2022, but the majority are expected in 2023.