KEY workers who are suffering from long Covid should be given compensation, MPs have said.
It is thought that more than 390,000 people in the UK have been left with debilitating symptoms such as muscle ache and fatigue after overcoming the virus.
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Now a total of 65 MPs have penned a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, urging him to recognise the illness as an occupational disease.
The government had previously announced that it would be investing £18.5m into four studies looking at the longer term effects of Covid.
In November the NHS also announced that it would be launching 43 mini-hospitals to treat up to half a million sufferers.
The centres will offer care to some 500,000 people still suffering with fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness months after contracting coronavirus.
Liberal democrat MP, Layla Moran, who chairs a committee of MPs looking into coronavirus said patients suffering from long Covid are finding it “close to impossible” to return to work.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme she said many long Covid sufferers are the “true heroes of the pandemic”.
She said: “These are people who we went out to clap for every Thursday evening… and find themselves unable to do their work, having spent their time saving lives.
“It is entirely right to protect their livelihoods.”
Persistent health problems following acute disease
Health issues following disease include:
- respiratory symptoms
- conditions such as chronic cough, shortness of breath
- lung problems including inflammation and scarring
- heart issues including chest tightness
- heart failure and scarring
- protracted loss or change of smell and taste
- mental health problems including depression
- anxiety and cognitive difficulties
- inflammatory disorders such as muscle pain
- gastrointestinal problems
- continuing headaches
- weakness and sleeplessness
- liver and kidney dysfunction
- clotting disorders and thrombosis
- problems with the lymph nodes
- skin rashes
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus – led by Ms Moran states that around 390,000 people will have long Covid in the UK.
Countries such as Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Spain have already recognised long Covid as a occupational disease.
An occupational disease is contracted as a result of an exposure to risk – in the case of long Covid sufferers this would be people who had been exposed to the virus such as health care workers.
If the government defines long Covid in this way then people who have the condition, as well as their dependants, could be entitled to compensation.
The UK is currently in the third national coronavirus lockdown.
The first was in March 2020, the second in November 2020 and the third is still ongoing.
During these lockdowns Brits have been urged to stay at home in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
However Ms Moran highlighted that many health care and essential workers were told to go to work while the rest of the nation was asked to stay at home.
She added: “They are the true heroes of the pandemic and, sadly, many have developed the debilitating effects of long Covid, meaning that they are unable to return to full time work.
“The government cannot abandon them now or ever.”
Tory MP and doctor Dan Poulter added that it is now “the government’s turn” to look after workers who have looked after us.
The campaign has been backed by the British Medical Association (BMA) that said while the government needs to make sure staff working on the frontlines now are protected – it’s already too late for others.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the council added: “While the government and employers must increase efforts to protect staff now and stop them contracting Covid-19 in the first place, for some it is already too late.
“So it is only right that ministers urgently provide a compensation scheme to support healthcare staff and their families who are now living with the devastating after-effects of Covid-19.”
Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, previously said the health service needed to mobilise to help long Covid patients in the same way that it dealt with coronavirus infections in March.
He said: “Long Covid is already having a very serious impact on many people’s lives and could well go on to affect hundreds of thousands.”
A recent study by King’s College London found that people still suffered from muscle pain, loss of taste and smell, and excessive tiredness for 12 weeks or more after catching the virus.
Speaking to the BBC, a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said long Covid and the impact it has on people should be a “clear reminder to everyone” that we need to follow the rules.
The spokesperson said: “We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our health and social care staff throughout the pandemic and it is important that staff are treated fairly, and employers make full use of the existing sick pay provisions on offer to support staff.
“We are continuing to work with our outstanding scientists to improve our collective understanding of the impact long Covid has on people of all ages – making sure we deliver the best support possible to affected individuals.”