Today is International Long Covid Awareness Day. Given this it seemed appropriate to write a blog outlining the work done so far to set up a charity for healthcare workers with Long Covid as well as let you know how you can help us take this work forward.
Who are we?
The work to set up the charity is currently being led by three founding trustees all whom have Long Covid:
To prevent and alleviate poverty and financial hardship for healthcare workers who developed post-acute covid-19 complications (Long Covid) following Covid-19 which was acquired because of carrying out their duties during the pandemic, whether or not they are still employed, by providing financial grants to individuals and/or other organisations and charities with similar aims.
The Government has continually stuck to its erroneous belief that Covid is over despite clear evidence that a significant proportion of the population have been affected by this mass disabling event.
Getting back to work with Long Covid: Where is the creativity?
Today I attended, nearly three years into my Long Covid journey, a workshop run by my local Long Covid clinic and the Richmond Fellowship on employment. One of the key messages was that it is possible for people to return to work with Long Covid but that this needs creativity.
After attending the workshop, I went onto Facebook only to find yet another NHS worker with Long Covid has been dismissed because they can’t say when they will be back at work. Last week I posted on Twitter stating:
In the past few days numerous NHS staff with #LongCovid have posted on Facebook saying HR are preventing their return to work by insisting they can only have a 4-6 week phased return at 50% of their normal hours. This is setting people up to fail and goes against all the best practice guidelines. Anyone would think we didn’t have a workforce crisis let alone a moral obligation to support our staff. #NHSHeroToZero
This week I’m publishing a second blog – a vlog from Brenda Eadie (@BrendaEadie). I don’t normally publish more than one blog a week but Brenda’s story needs to be heard. (Watching this vlog and reading Anna’s blog about her guilt at not being able to return to work provides insight into the impact of Long Covid on our so called NHS Heroes.)
In the vlog Brenda describes how she felt when she was sacked from her NHS role this week after 28 years of service with no financial safety net because she has Long Covid having caught covid at work. #NHSHeroToZero
Some of you may have seen a shorter version on social media yesterday via @LCNMUK but Brenda’s message is so strong I am publishing this longer version here too (with permission).
This week’s blog is written by Roger Kline (@rogerkline).
One in nine nurses left the NHS last year. One Department of Health and Social Care policy will make things worse.
The Office of National Statistics estimated (18 May 2021) that approximately 122,000 healthcare workers and 31,000 social care workers were self-reporting symptoms of Long Covid. More than a third (35%) of the above patients stated they were experiencing Long Covid symptoms more than a year after their first suspected infection, and almost two thirds (65%) said their symptoms limited their daily activities. It was months before employers fully implemented statutory risk assessments on the workplace.
The Government’s decision to scrap extended sick pay for NHS staff with Long Covid is directly punishing some of the very staff who risked their lives to care for others with Covid. NHS staff who worked selflessly to save other peoples’ lives despite the risk of catching Covid themselves now find themselves being made redundant after being diagnosed with Long Covid. These staff (and their families) are now facing financial ruin.
This week I want to point you in the direction of some of the @LCNMUK blogs published over the past couple of months where nurses with Long Covid told their stories. I also want to highlight that Covid Isn’t Over and that many NHS workers with Long Covid are facing financial destitution now that covid sick pay has been removed across the UK. (More information about the removal of covid sick pay can be found here.)
Today is 1st September which means that NHS staff with Long Covid in England and Scotland are no longer receiving Covid sick pay or on amended terms and conditions. Staff in Wales have been in this position since 1st July. This is not good enough. Our NHS heroes are effectively being abandoned through no fault of their own.
I am so incensed about the changes that I am writing this blog even though Long Covid Nurses and Midwives UK (@LCNMUK) is taking a social media break until later this month. Roger Kline (@rogerkline) summed up the situation in his blog for Evidence Based Nursing in July 2022. He called for 10 things to happen.