NHS staff off work with long Covid set to be stripped of full pay

·3 min read
In March 2020, temporary measures were put in place to give NHS staff 12 months full pay if they were off with the condition - Jamie Lorriman
In March 2020, temporary measures were put in place to give NHS staff 12 months full pay if they were off with the condition - Jamie Lorriman

NHS staff off work with long Covid will be stripped of full pay, the Government is expected to announce.

In March 2020, temporary measures were put in place to give NHS staff 12 months full pay if they were off with the condition.

But from next week, the health service will return to pre-pandemic arrangements, meaning workers will receive six months full pay followed by six months half.

The Telegraph understands that the changes will not affect staff off work and isolating with Covid for short periods of time.

The change in policy, first reported by The Independent, comes as Covid infections increased by almost 30 per cent in the past week.

Responding to the changes to sick pay, reportedly to begin from July 7, Patricia Marquis, the director of the Royal College of Nursing England, said: “This decision is hugely disappointing given that Covid-19 clearly hasn’t gone away and nursing staff continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus as they face higher risk of exposure.

“We know many of our members are suffering from long Covid, with their lives adversely affected, making them unable to work. Facing the threat of losing full sick pay should they remain off sick from a condition some could argue is an occupational hazard, is neglectful and unfair.

“It’s another indication of how little this Government values its nursing staff. NHS pay is barely enough to make ends meet at the best of times, and this will be another blow for some struggling with Covid-related health issues.”

New staff will not be able to access the temporary arrangement from next week, whilst those currently off work on the scheme will return to the old entitlement from September, according to reports.

Patients experiencing long Covid suffer ongoing symptoms including fatigue, breathlessness, a cough and muscle pain, according to NHS England.

Last month, a tribunal ruled that long Covid is a disability after a charity caretaker who was dismissed from his job was given permission to bring a case of disability discrimination against his former employer.

Dr Elaine Maxwell, of Long Covid Support, told The Independent: “I think this is really shortsighted when we can see, for many people, long Covid lasts longer than a year.”

But Danny Mortimer, the chief executive of NHS Employers, part of the NHS Confederation, said: “This is a sensible step given where we are now in relation to the pandemic.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “As we learn to live with Covid, we are withdrawing the temporary NHS staff sickness guidance that was put in place at the height of the pandemic as part of plans to move back to the normal arrangements set out in the NHS terms and conditions.

“This provides generous support for NHS staff with up to six months full pay and six months half pay, depending on length of service.”

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