DAUK has revealed that locums feel like their lives have ‘little value’ as ministers remain silent on whether the sessional workforce will receive temporary protections during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a survey of 401 doctors conduced by the DAUK, almost 90% of clinicians said that they were less likely to return to practice, stay in practice, increase their hours or work in high risk areas because of a lack of guarantees. Only 10% of respondents said that they had chosen not to change their hours and working patterns because of a lack of death-in-service benefits, which is proving to be ‘significant source of stress’ for the majority.
It found concerns about a lack of protection were greatest among retired doctors and senior doctors who are at higher risk due to their age.
DAUK President Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden has argued that all clinicians should be able to go to work in the knowledge that their family will be cared for should they die during the COVID-19 outbreak. Two UK doctors have died after being infected with coronavirus in the last week, while large numbers of deaths and infections have been reported among healthcare staff in other EU countries.
Dr Batt-Rawden said that locum GPs were ‘making extraordinary sacrifices’ turning up to work during the pandemic. She said: ‘Doctors across the country have stepped up to support the NHS through the pandemic. It is therefore morally unforgivable that… many have been told their families won’t be provided for in the event of their death.
‘We therefore ask Matt Hancock to ensure that all doctors receive death in service benefit… allow[ing] doctors to continue fighting this pandemic without the added stress of worrying about leaving their families in financial difficulty should they die in the line of duty.’
DAUK GP lead Dr Yasotha Browne, added: ‘Doctors in this situation have been telling us they are very concerned. It is a very real worry for them that healthcare workers could die as a direct result of working with patients who are COVID positive.
‘Whilst they would like to serve during this crisis they fear if they were to die it would leave their families in financial difficulty. Many feel they therefore have little choice but to offer less hours or only do remote work, at a time when we need all available capacity.’