Thousands of NHS staff with long Covid risk losing their pay
Thousands of NHS staff across the UK are facing pay cuts because of a change in Covid sickness policy. Analysis by BBC Panorama suggests that between 5,000 and 10,000 NHS workers could be off sick with long Covid.
Unions are accusing the government of failing to support health staff who worked during the coronavirus pandemic. The government says the Covid-19 public inquiry will examine these issues when it begins taking evidence in May.
Changes to special sick pay rules introduced during the pandemic mean that some NHS staff unable to work due to long Covid may soon no longer receive full pay. Enhanced provision ended last year. Many had a six-month transition, so expect their wages to go down soon.
Rachel Hext is hoping she will get better after developing long Covid and being unable to work for more than two years. But really, she’s not sure that she will ever be the same again.
In October 2020, Rachel was caring for Covid patients. A few days later, she tested positive. Her symptoms include chest pain, brain fog, fatigue, joint pain, allergies, heart problems, sinus issues and hearing loss.
The 35-year-old is a nurse at a small community hospital in Brixham, Devon. Rachel is still on full pay but a change in sickness rules means her salary is due to be cut in half at the end of February.
She says she will be £1,000 a month worse off. She has applied for an NHS Injury Allowance, which could top up her pay, but doesn’t know if she will get it. The Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust says it can’t comment because there is a legal claim, which it is defending.
The trust’s chief executive, Liz Davenport, adds: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is our priority, and we are extremely grateful to all our colleagues in the NHS and care services who worked tirelessly during the pandemic to care for our patients.”
Rachel says she’s really worried about money. She adds: “I do appreciate the NHS can’t pay us forever, but there’s hope we can actually bring something back to the NHS again.
In other news – Charities urge PM to stop using hotels to house migrant children
More than 100 charities have written to Rishi Sunak calling for an end to housing child asylum seekers in hotels, after about 200 went missing.
The organisations warned the prime minister that children were at risk of exploitation, with one calling it a “child protection scandal”. There is concern that children are being trafficked into criminal gangs. Learn more