New information reveals how many days ambulance services in Wigan and across the North West have lost due to Long Covid
The government is being called upon to recognise the condition as an occupational disease and to introduce support for key workers.
Concerns have been raised by how the condition is impacting essential services, with some North West Ambulances staff recording absences lasting as long as 18 months.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus made a freedom of information request made to the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust concerning the situation.
According to the new data, the availability of ambulance staff in the North West of England may remain badly affected, with tens of thousands of working days already lost because staff are experiencing symptoms weeks after contracting the virus.
It revealed that between March 2020 and September 2021, 33,654.65 full time equivalent days were lost due to staff experiencing Covid or Covid related sickness more than 28 days after contracting the virus.
In one case a member of staff had been absent from work with Covid related sickness for 544 days, with four others absent for over a year.
Overall 398 staff members were absent from work from March 2020 to September 2021 due to Covid related sickness, for more than 28 days in at least one episode.
According to the most recent ONS statistics an estimated 1.2 million (1.9% of the population) are living with Long Covid, with fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell and difficulty concentrating reported as the most common symptoms.
While the trust has stated that they have made adjustments for affected staff and that they are working to support their mental health and wellbeing, the revelations have raised questions about the negative impact that Long Covid continues to have on the region’s essential public services and the lack of support provided by the UK Government.
After first raising the issue in August 2020 and writing again to the Prime Minister in January of this year, the APPG on Coronavirus are calling on the government to recognise Long Covid as an occupational disease.
They are further calling for the introduction of a Long Covid compensation scheme for frontline workers who have been impacted financially by the condition.
Barbara Keeley, MP for Worsley and Eccles South and Vice-Chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, said: “These statistics demonstrate the urgent need to recognise Long Covid as an occupational disease, provide formal guidance to employers on the issue and create a compensation scheme for key workers who have been unable to return to work.
“Many of these workers exposed themselves to the virus while saving others during the darkest days of this pandemic. The government cannot continue to ignore the sacrifices they have made while working to protect others.”
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said: “While much of the focus of the past two years has been on fighting the pandemic, there hasn’t been enough attention paid to the two lurking endemics that Covid is causing: in mental health and in Long Covid.
“These figures show the scale of the impact that Long Covid is having on people’s lives and their ability to work and provide for their families.
“Many of those suffering are frontline workers who we all stood and applauded last year. Much more needs to be done to understand and treat Long Covid and to properly support those who are still suffering from its effects.”
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