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Appeal for donations for family of GP locum denied 'death in service' payment

A charity appeal has been set up by GP leaders to raise money for the family of a GP locum whose family was refused any payments after she died unexpectedly on a day off.

Dr Dean Eggitt, chair of Doncaster LMC, has set up a fundraising page to collect £100,000 to support the husband and two young daughters of Dr Helen Sanderson and help them keep their family home.

Pulse reported in June that Merseyside GP locum Dr Sanderson died suddenly of cardiomyopathy, leaving behind her husband Carlos and daughters Grace, age six, and Mary, age four.

Because Dr Sanderson had not been scheduled to work on the day of her death she was not deemed to have died ‘in service’ by the NHS Pension Authority, but instead said to have ‘died within 12 months of leaving the service’.

This was despite having worked continuously in the months before Christmas and being scheduled in for shifts later in the year and making routine pension contributions.

Mr Sanderson is appealing the decision, which has denied them a lump sum payment that he says ‘would be the difference between keeping our home and having to sell it’.

The appeal page explains any funds raised ‘will be given to Carlos, Mary and Grace to help them live their life in their family home who they shared with their mother, Helen. If Carlos wins the appeal against the NHS Pension Authority, he will give all the money raised from Just Giving to the Cameron Fund Charity [who support GPs and their dependents] to help others benefit from our support.’

NHS pension scheme guidance issued by the Department of Health in 2013 states: ‘Eligibility for death-in-service and other scheme benefits is linked to periods of active locum service for which contributions are paid. Given that locums are employed typically per unit of time (hour or session), active service is the duration of the contracted hours. Eligibility therefore ceases once those hours have been worked.

‘Continuous death-in-service cover can be secured by arranging continuous employment as a salaried GP.’

To donate and keep up to date with the fundraising, go to:


Readers' comments (7)

  • My condolences to the family who definitely need support, but it is a very worrying article for locums.
    Could someone please direct us to a link dealing with death in service regulations.

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  • Hi there,

    We’ve updated the story with the NHS pension scheme guidance, and this recent BMA blog also provides some useful information.

    Hope that helps,
    Pulse team

  • This family need to be advised to contact Royal Medical Benovolent fund, or Medical Foundation or Cameron Fund - these charities may be able to help.

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  • such a sad and tragic story

    my condolences to dr sandersons family and children.

    i hope they receive the help they need and get to keep their home.

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  • sad story. NHS pension should cover locums in regular work not just on days you are working.

    life insurance though is incredibly important and all doctors should get it.

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  • This is awful. Would salaried or principal GPs get "death in service" payments if it was a day off? If so, the regulations must be amended.

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  • condolences to the family, it is a disgrace , it wouldn't happen to an mp

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  • Life Insurance - this lady was probably uninsurable on the basis of cardiomyopathy?

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