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Nearly 2 million days lost to long Covid staff absences across NHS trusts

Nearly 2 million days lost to long Covid staff absences across NHS trusts
By Jess Hacker
25 January 2022

NHS trusts in England lost at least 1.8 million full-time equivalent days in staff absences in the first 18 months of the pandemic due to long Covid, analysis has shown.

According to MPs within the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus, as many as 7,191 staff were absent due to long Covid between March 2020 and September 2021.

The MPs said that some absences were reported to have lasted longer than 600 days, with Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust alone recording 1,984 individual absences.

The estimates – which are based on data obtained from 70 trusts via the Freedom of Information Act – may fall below the true figure, as some trusts noted that long Covid was not classified as a reason for absence early in the pandemic.

Earlier this month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that 2% of the population – or 1.3 million people – were living with long Covid towards the end of 2021.

The office also indicated that 892,000 first had Covid-19 at least 12 weeks prior.

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The APPG has now called on the Government to recognise long Covid as an occupational disease, urging them to provide employers with formal guidance.

In addition, they called for the introduction of a long Covid compensation scheme for frontline workers who have been impacted financially by the condition.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the APPG, warned the Government that the thousands of staff living with long Covid ‘cannot now be abandoned’.

She said: ‘The Government must create a compensation scheme for any of these key workers who have been unable to return to work and as a first step in protecting our public services from the impact of long Covid, they must recognise it as an occupational disease and provide formal guidance to employers.’

NHS England previously named two new national clinical leaders to advise on long Covid as part of a series of appointments to support the pandemic recovery.

Last summer, NHSE allocated £30m to GP practices to improve diagnosis and care for patients with long Covid as part of a £100m investment to expand care for the condition.

Meanwhile, a study in July found that more than a quarter of GP practices in England were not using the clinical codes for long Covid in patient records.

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