Frontline workers experiencing ‘long Covid’ could be waiting more than a year to find out if they are entitled to compensation.
According to the BBC, government advisers have indicated that a decision on a compensation scheme for key workers suffering the long-term effects of Covid-19, which many MPs and peers have pressed for, is not expected for a while.
Earlier this year, 65 MPs and peers wrote to Boris Johnson asking for long Covid to be classified as an “occupational disease”.
According to the Office for National Statistics, more than one million people in the UK are thought to have long Covid, symptoms of which can include fatigue, cognitive difficulties and breathing problems months after they were first infected with Covid-19.
Countries including Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Spain have formally recognised long Covid as an occupational disease.
Thousands of health workers are thought to have caught Covid-19 while doing their jobs and have since developed long Covid symptoms. Many have been unable to return to work fully.
Dr Asad Khan, a respiratory consultant in Manchester, told the BBC that had had been off work for almost six months with symptoms including extreme fatigue, heart palpitations and an inability to control his bodily functions.
“Theoretically I could lose my job. I could be retired sick, which is a scary prospect,” he said.
“There are tens of thousands of us who are living with the illness, unable to work, unable to function.
“We answered the call to action when we were needed, the decent thing to do now would be to ensure those of us who have acquired Covid as a result of increased exposure to the virus should be assured of some financial compensation.”
Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus, said classifying long Covid as an “occupational disease” would allow sufferers to be awarded an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, depending of the severity of their disability.
“These are the very people we should be supporting the most – they aren’t just the people who went out and did the jobs that needed to be done, they are also the people that got sick from it,” she told the BBC.
“It is only right the government now looks after their lives if they’ve been affected by long Covid – that they are compensated and this would be according to their need at the time.”