Intense pressures on the already overstretched NHS are being exacerbated by the tens of thousands of health staff who are sick with Long Covid, doctors and hospital bosses say.
At least 122,000 NHS personnel have the condition, the Office for National Statistics disclosed in a detailed report that showed 1.1 million people in the UK were affected by the condition. That is more than any other occupational group and ahead of teachers, of whom 114,000 have it.
Patient care is being hit because many of those struggling with Long Covid are only able to work part-time, are too unwell to perform their usual duties, or often need time off because they are in pain, exhausted or have “brain fog”.
“Ongoing illness can have a devastating impact on individual doctors, both physically and by leaving them unable to work. Furthermore, it puts a huge strain on the health service, which was already vastly understaffed before the pandemic hit,” said Dr Helena McKeown, the workforce lead at the British Medical Association, which represents doctors.
“With around 30,000 sickness absences currently linked to Covid in the NHS in England, we cannot afford to let any more staff become ill. Simply put, if they are off sick, they’re unable to provide care and patients will not get the care and treatment they need.
“In the longer term, if more staff face ongoing illness from past COVID-19 infection, the implications for overall workforce numbers will be disastrous.”
Source: The Guardian, 3 April 2021