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Here is a good news post that Clr Kate Taylor PCC portfolio holder posted today following work unison has been doing behind the scenes on behalf of our members.

A new life assurance scheme has been introduced for front line health and social care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our health and social care staff are doing a vital job in keeping people safe, but sadly some have lost the lives as a result of their roles and there is a very real risk that more will if we are faced with a worse second peak of this terrible virus.

It is horrendous to think of any of our amazing health and social care workers losing their lives whilst doing their jobs, but I know many will take comfort in this announcement, which means that in the event of a staff member dying in the course of COVID-19 work, a lump sum payment of £60,000 will be made to their estate.

We are also pleased to hear that Livewell Southwest staff are included in this scheme even if they are not included in the NHS Pension Scheme or Local Government Pension Scheme, both of which offer a death in service benefit, due to the nature of the organisation.

Livewell Southwest staff are often left behind in terms of being able to access initiatives or payments available to NHS staff, despite the fact they do the same jobs, serving the same communities of people in Plymouth, providing NHS or social care services to those who need them. Most recently, nurses at Livewell Southwest missed out of CPD payments worth £1000 for their training developments simply because they are not directly employed by an NHS Trust.

Livewell nurses and Allied Health Professionals provide NHS services. They are Occupational, Drama and Music Therapists who provide recovery to people. They are nurses who provide inpatient rehabilitation care to those recovering from major strokes. They are mental health nurses who provide care coordination and support to those suffering from severe and enduring mental health illnesses, including psychiatric inpatients, and those with learning disabilities. They are district nurses who provide support to patients in the community.

The idea that these nurses or any other member of staff are worth any less because they work for Livewell Southwest rather than directly for the NHS is ridiculous. They provide NHS services, they work on Agenda for Change pay scales and they provide incredible care to people when they really need it, just like nurses and Allied Health Professionals in any other NHS organisation around the country. Plymouth has been leading the way in terms of integrating physical and mental health and have shown true leadership in their fields during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cllr Taylor really pleased to have worked with Livewell Southwest and the trade unions towards this, and their inclusion in this scheme is welcome. I hope this announcement will provide some reassurance to those staff right across the NHS who are putting their lives on the line to care for people during this challenging period. I am incredibly grateful to them for their service and know that this is shared by people right across the city:

UNISON understands that other independent care providers are also included in this scheme and while we fervently hope that it will not be needed please get in touch with us if you you do loose a loved one