Dr Helena McKeown, who chairs the British Medical Association’s representative body, said it would be “negligent” to delay compensating frontline workers facing long-term symptoms of the virus.
Speaking on the BBC Breakfast programme, McKeown dismissed suggestions that the government could delay paying workers on the frontline of the pandemic who are suffering with Long Covid as they sought to learn more about the disease.
“She said the Government cannot “just say ‘Wait whilst we get evidence in five years’ time or so’.
“What about these people now who need help with their families and their livelihoods?”
When it was put to her that the Government might argue it is focusing on investing in research to understand the condition before thinking about compensation, she told BBC Breakfast: “I think that’s negligent of them.
“We know people – doctors, nurses, other frontline key workers – who contracted Covid back in the spring (last year) and still have symptoms.
“Some people have already lost their livelihoods. We know GPs who have had to leave their practices, and other doctors and healthcare workers.”
The NHS has issued advice on Long Covid, pointing out that many who only suffer mild symptoms of the virus initially may continue to feel them for months afterwards.
“Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer,” official NHS advice reads.
“The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get coronavirus.
“People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems,” it continues, suggesting that those worried about Covid symptoms (see below) four weeks after contracting the virus should contact their GP.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste