The workforce is facing a ‘looming crisis’ on long Covid unless the government gives more support including guidelines for employers and compensation to workers affected.
Speaking in the House of Commons on 31 March, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, said: “People can recover, and very often do, but the way to help them do that is very badly explained to employers right now.”
“We now need to accept that, if we are going to live with Covid, we also have to live with long Covid.”
Her comments follow a new report issued by the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus, which Moran also chairs, and which calls for the government to urgently produce guidelines for employers on managing the impact of long Covid in the workforce.
Guidelines have been developed by NICE for medical professionals to diagnose and treat the disease, says Moran: “We need to think ahead and it would be wrong for us just to focus on the medical side.”
The APPG is also calling for a compensation scheme for frontline workers with long Covid stating that the government and HSE have yet to class long Covid as an occupational disease.
It is thought that 1.2 million people in the UK currently have the illness, around 4 per cent of the workforce.
In the hospitality sector alone, 2.6 per cent of workers have long Covid, heard MPs, equating to 70,000 workers unable to do their jobs as they did before. In retail, it is 2.3 per cent, or just under 70,000 workers.
Symptoms of long Covid are wide-ranging, with symptoms including everything from hair loss to heart palpitations, fever, fatigue and brain fog. The illness is relapsing and remitting in nature. According to NICE guidelines, long Covid includes both ongoing symptomatic Covid‑19 (from 4 to 12 weeks) and post‑Covid‑19 syndrome (12 weeks or more).
Rebecca, a fitness instructor, who gave evidence to the APPG said she used to teach 14 high-intensity classes a week and ran her own business. Now long Covid means that she is in bed 60 per of the time. She describes being "unable to return to work, and to be the mum, wife or friend I once was."
Long Covid report: www.appgcoronavirus.uk
The government needs to act now: an opinion piece by Layla Moran MP for Safety Management here
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