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Unions Urge More Support for Health Staff with Long COVID

Leading medical unions have urged the Government to do more to support healthcare workers with long COVID.

Many health workers are still suffering the "debilitating" effects of long COVID, some of whom are unable to work as a result, they said.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the British Medical Association (BMA) have written to ministers imploring them to do more to support these workers who are suffering "significant financial penalties".

The unions have written to Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride, asking him to respond to recommendations made by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council to support workers with long COVID. In the letter, BMA council chair Professor Philip Banfield and RCN chief nurse Professor Nicola Ranger wrote: "Long COVID has had debilitating effects on numerous doctors, nursing and midwifery staff, many of whom were previously left — or remain — unable to work. This has led to significant financial penalties.

"The UK Government needs to act quickly and provide support now to the many doctors, nursing, and midwifery staff and their families who have suffered significant financial losses as a result of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace and then developing long COVID."

Doctors "Feel Betrayed"

Professor Banfield went on to say: "Doctors and their colleagues were betrayed during the pandemic when they were left unprotected as they continued to go to work and confront this deadly disease on a daily basis. Now those who are suffering the long-term impacts are being betrayed once again.

"After going above and beyond in caring for people during the pandemic and contracting the virus and often becoming seriously ill as a result, it's shameful that doctors and their colleagues are being financially penalised too."

Professor Ranger added: "Nursing staff tell us their lives have been forever changed by long COVID. Its physical impact coupled with long-term financial insecurity is causing them continued worry.

"They have been doubly let down by this government – which first failed to provide adequate protection against a deadly virus and subsequently left thousands unsupported whilst facing the often-debilitating consequences of long COVID.

"Ministers have had a year to act and are now falling behind other countries who have given formal legal recognition to long COVID as an industrial disease."

The Department for Work and Pensions has been approached for comment.