The BMJ recently published an article (20/09/2023) that tells the story of Dr. Kelly Fearnley, who contracted COVID-19 in 2020 while working in a UK hospital with inadequate PPE. She developed long COVID and has been unable to work since. Many doctors face financial struggles, inability to work, and lack of support due to long COVID.
Fearnley co-founded Long Covid Doctors for Action to advocate for greater recognition of long COVID’s impact on doctors’ health and careers. Up to 1 in 25 healthcare workers are estimated to have long COVID. A BMA survey of 603 doctors with long COVID found 18% can no longer work and 49% have lost income.
The BMA survey highlighted the lack of respiratory protective equipment provided to many doctors when they contracted COVID-19. Only 11% had access to FFP2 masks and 16% to FFP3 masks. This left them unprotected against the airborne virus.
Doctors with long COVID face financial struggles when their sick pay ends after 6-12 months. NHS enhanced sick pay for long COVID ended in September 2022. Many are unable to work but have no income. Charities supporting doctors have seen applications surge.
Long COVID has severely impacted doctors’ wellbeing, leaving many unable to care for themselves or their families. The BMA and advocacy groups demand long COVID be recognized as an occupational disease to enable support and benefits.
Doctors report difficulty accessing investigations, referrals and treatment for long COVID within the NHS. Many feel dismissed by medical colleagues and system barriers. There is a lack of doctors overseeing long COVID care.
Doctors call for greater government and NHS support for those disabled by long COVID contracted while serving during the pandemic. They stepped up but now feel abandoned in their time of need.
Supporting Healthcare Heroes is being set up along side groups such as Long Covid Doctors for Action to offer support to those Healthcare workers struggling with Long Covid. Please subscribe to a our social media feeds to be kept up to date.