Hundreds of families of NHS and care workers who died of coronavirus haven’t yet claimed a £60,000 death payout from the government.
Figures revealed by PoliticsHome this week showed 236 claims had been received in England by November 4, of which 205 were accepted so far.
But the number of families eligible for the scheme could be far higher, with separate figures suggesting 620 NHS and social care staff have died of Covid-19.
Labour today urged Matt Hancock to write directly to the families of the deceased and make sure they are aware of the scheme.
Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders said: “To have lost the lives of so many when they were just doing their jobs is an absolute tragedy.
“The decision to open up the death in service benefit to everyone working in the health and social care sector in response to this was the right one.
“However, to see such a low number of applications being made so long after the scheme was started should be prompting Matt Hancock to take action.
“He must personally take action to ensure that no bereaved family misses out even though the payment cannot take away the pain of that loss.”
The scheme, announced in April by Health Secretary Matt Hancock, means bereaved families will get a lump sum of £60,000 if NHS or care workers die of coronavirus.
The Government said the sum was “roughly twice the average pensionable pay for NHS staff”.
But some doctors said it was not enough, while it later emerged families could have benefits stopped if they accept the capital sum.
The Department of Health and Social Care told PoliticsHome it was writing to employers.
A DHSC spokesperson told the website: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our deepest sympathies go out to everyone who has lost loved ones during the pandemic.
“The NHS & Social Care Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme provides financial security to the families of NHS and social care staff who tragically die from coronavirus contracted through the course of their work.
“We are writing to relevant employers to raise awareness of the scheme and to help ensure eligible claims are made.”