Grahame Morris MP is one of several MPs who have made representations to the Health Secretary, expressing concern about the welfare of retired miners during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many MPs who represent constituencies in former mining towns and villages have been approached by concerned constituents. In a letter to Matt Hancock, they explain that ex-miners are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, as they are likely to have existing health conditions – particularly related to the lungs – as a result of their former occupations.
Ex-miners and their families are worried that, should a former miner die with Covid-19, the death certificate may cite the cause of death as Covid-19, but fail to indicate any relevant underlying health conditions. Such a failure to record underlying health conditions could lead to the obstruction of any claims made for posthumous awards by a bereaved family, through the Department of Work and Pensions.
The Easington MP has recently campaigned for the government to change the surplus sharing arrangements to give former miners and their widows a greater share of the pension fund’s investment returns. Earlier this month, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy rejected proposals for a one-off coronavirus payment from the Mineworkers Pension Scheme.
MPs request that Mr. Hancock outline the government’s plans to protect miners during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as provide additional resources for services that support miners, particularly relating to healthcare. They call on the government to make assurances that death certificates will account for pre-existing industrial diseases, and call for additional funding for research into the relationship between these diseases and Covid-19.
Mr Morris said, “The government’s relaxation of the legislation on the completion of death certificates cannot be allowed to impede bereaved families in seeking the compensation and justice that they deserve. We owe a debt of gratitude to our coalfield communities; I urge the government to recognise this and provide the resources for vital research into the industrial diseases that many retired miners live with.”