Anger as £110k payment refused for Doncaster heart attack death mum’s family

Dr Helen Sanderson who died aged 40 of a rare heart disorder with daughters Grace and Mary
Dr Helen Sanderson who died aged 40 of a rare heart disorder with daughters Grace and Mary

The young family of a Doncaster GP who died suddenly have been denied death in service financial support – because she died on a day off.

Dr Helen Sanderson’s husband Carlos and daughters Grace, aged six and Mary, four, have been denied a payout of £110,000 because of the loophole and face losing their Doncaster home.

Dr Sanderson, a locum, died suddenly on Christmas Eve last year at the age of just 40 after suffering from a rare form of cardiomyopathy, or disease of the heart muscle.

The mum-of-two paid into a pension scheme that would give her husband £110,000 if she died in service – but NHS bosses have refused to pay out because she was not working on the day she died.

Mr Sanderson is appealing the NHS’s decision not to make the pay-out.

Now Dr Dean Eggitt, chair of Doncaster Local Medical Committee, has set up a fundraising page to help raise £100,000 to support the bereaved family.

Posting on the crowdfunding page, Dr Eggitt, who works at the Oakwood Surgery in Cantley, said: “The family have been left unable to afford their house without Helen to provide financial support.

“We are trying to raise money to ensure that Carlos, Grace and Mary do not lose their family home. They have already lost too much.

“This is a risk to locum doctors working in the NHS and is a loophole that allows the NHS Pensions Authority to side-step their financial obligations to the bereaved families of dedicated NHS workers.

“Carlos is challenging the decision to not award the death in service payment. If he wins, this will be a watershed moment for all locum doctors working in the NHS.

“If he loses, he will lose his house.”

If the family wins the appeal against the NHS Pension Authority, he will give all the money raised to the Cameron Fund Charity, which supports General Practitioners and their dependents.

Some £3,300 has been raised already via the funding page.

A spokesman for NHS Employers said the organisation does not comment on individual cases.

Just this week, it was revealed that 142 people in Doncaster died prematurely from heart attacks between 2011 and 2013.

According to the British Heart Foundation, heart attacks kill nearly 2,200 people prematurely each year in Yorkshire and the Humber.

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