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Death in service Families of health workers who died of Covid-19 in Ireland to get €100k sum

The memo will state that any healthcare worker designated by the Government as "essential" during the early phases of the pandemic will be eligible for the €100,000, which will be tax free.

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Stock image. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Stock image. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Stock image. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA

THE families of healthcare workers who died of Covid will be given €100,000 each under a new scheme to be agreed by Cabinet.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo to Cabinet outlining the scheme, which will be open to the families of 22 public and private healthcare workers who died while working on the frontline during the pandemic.

The memo will state that any healthcare worker designated by the Government as "essential" during the early phases of the pandemic will be eligible for the €100,000, which will be tax free.

This will include GPs and their staff - both medical and administrative.

People working in disability services will also be eligible, along with anyone who was working in public or private nursing homes.

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Stephen Donnelly, left, and Prof Shane Higgins on a videocall with labour and birthing unit manager Martina Cronin, open the refurbished unit at the NMH. Photo: Barry Cronin

Stephen Donnelly, left, and Prof Shane Higgins on a videocall with labour and birthing unit manager Martina Cronin, open the refurbished unit at the NMH. Photo: Barry Cronin

Stephen Donnelly, left, and Prof Shane Higgins on a videocall with labour and birthing unit manager Martina Cronin, open the refurbished unit at the NMH. Photo: Barry Cronin

The families of health workers who worked for private staffing agencies or did locum work over the last two years will also be able to apply for the funding.

The payment will be made in addition to any other entitlements a healthcare worker's family may be entitled to such as pension arrangements or death in service benefits.

Latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show 22 healthcare workers died after becoming infected with Covid-19.

The majority of healthcare workers who died from the virus were low-income workers.

The new scheme was developed by Mr Donnelly to ease the financial burden on families who suffered the loss of a loved one who was working on the frontline.

Most of the deaths among healthcare workers occurred in the early phases of the pandemic when vaccines were not available.

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Staff in hospitals and other acute medical settings were face to face with the virus on a daily basis, including in intensive care units and emergency wards.

More than 40,000 healthcare workers were diagnosed with Covid-19 throughout the course of the pandemic.

The Cabinet is expected to sign off on the once-off €100,000 payment when it meets this morning.

A similar scheme was introduced in Britain where families were given £60,000 (€72,400).

Meanwhile, ministers will also sign off on new laws to establish safe access zones around healthcare facilities carrying out abortions.

Safe access zone legislation is included in Mr Donnelly's Women's Health Action Plan, which will be launched tomorrow.

As part of the plan, families will be able to have children via surrogacy in the State for the first time under laws which will be passed this year.

The laws will be a "precursor" for publicly funded IVF, it is understood, which fertility campaigners have been calling for.

Roughly €31m will be put into women's healthcare and provide for three extra menopause clinics, 14 extra See and Treat gynaecology clinics and two more fertility hubs.

Lactation consultants and perinatal mental health services will also be put in place across all maternity units around the country.

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