Today (15th March) is International Long Covid Awareness Day. Given this it seemed appropriate to write a blog outlining the work done so far to set up a charity for healthcare workers with Long Covid as well as let you know how you can help us take this work forward.
Who are we?
The work to set up the charity is currently being led by three founding trustees all whom have Long Covid:
We are also grateful to the support we are getting from a couple of amazing volunteers to get the charity up and running.
Why are we setting up the charity?
Supporting Healthcare Heroes UK has been set up:
To prevent and alleviate poverty and financial hardship for healthcare workers who developed post-acute covid-19 complications (Long Covid) following Covid-19 which was acquired because of carrying out their duties during the pandemic, whether or not they are still employed, by providing financial grants to individuals and/or other organisations and charities with similar aims.
The Government has continually stuck to its erroneous belief that Covid is over despite clear evidence that a significant proportion of the population have been affected by this mass disabling event.
Healthcare workers have been working on the frontline throughout the pandemic often without adequate personal protective equipment.
For a significant proportion of healthcare workers their reward has been Long Covid and an uncertain future both personally and professionally.
What do we know about the impact of Long Covid on the NHS workforce?
There is no national data detailing how many NHS staff have Long Covid in the UK. The DHSC has confirmed they do not hold these data, nor do they intend to collect it. I guess maybe it you don’t collect the data you can pretend there isn’t a problem??
An article in the Guardian in July 2002 stated that at least 199,000 NHS workers are currently living with Long Covid.
Research conducted by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus has estimated NHS England lost 1.82 million healthcare worker days to Long Covid from March 2020 to September 2021 (APPG Coronavirus 2022).
Other healthcare workers have also been impacted by Long Covid including people employed in the third sector such as hospice staff, and public health practitioners employed by local councils or public health bodies. (For the purposes of the charity, we consider all these people to be healthcare workers.)
The number of healthcare workers with Long Covid is likely to increase over time. We now know the chances of post-covid sequelae increase with each acute covid infection. Many health care workers report frequent reinfections, partly due to inadequate infection protection and control guidance (Ferris et al. 2021).
What financial support is available to healthcare workers with Long Covid?
Many NHS staff were receiving covid ‘special’ sick pay until the autumn of 2022. At that point they were placed onto standard sickness absence terms and conditions meaning a maximum of six months on full pay followed by six months half pay depending on their length of service.
Despite covid special sick pay being in place many staff have been dismissed on the grounds of sickness capability. The number of staff being sacked is increasing week on week since covid sick pay was stopped.
Not all healthcare workers have had similar pay protections, including: bank staff; primary care staff; and those employed in the third sector such as hospice staff as well as public health practitioners employed by local councils or public health bodies..
Many healthcare workers are now facing financial destitution but still not well enough to safely return to work.
There is currently no financial safety net for healthcare workers with Long Covid despite the Coronavirus APPG recommending that the UK Government should launch a compensation scheme available to all frontline key workers currently living with Long Covid.
What can you do to help us set up the charity?
To become a registered charity, we need to prove to the Charity Commission that we can raise money. Given this we have set up a JustGiving page and are aiming to raise £5,000. Please give if you can.
Once the charity is established and registered, we hope to be in position to start giving financial hardship grants to affected healthcare workers in the coming months.
We are keen to build up our following on social media. To do this we need as many people as possible to:
|Follow us on Twitter (@SupportingHH-UK) and Instagram (supportinghealthcareheroesuk).
|Like, comment on, and retweet our posts on Twitter.
|Like and comment on posts on Instagram, adding relevant content to your story.
|Follow our Facebook page and engage with the content we post, through liking, commenting and/or sharing posts.
|Tag us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts where you think the content is pertinent to our cause, raising our awareness of emerging information, articles, and developments.
|Tell your family and friends about us, asking them to join us on our social media campaign.
Could you be a one of our volunteers or a trustee?
We are in the process of applying for charitable status. To achieve our aim we need some help. We are looking for:
|Additional trustees, including a treasurer – we anticipate trustees will undertake a one year term, in the first instance.
|Volunteers to help with a range of tasks.
|People with a high profile on social media who can promote the work of SHH-UK.
For information about how to apply to be a trustee or volunteer please email us at: email@example.com.
More information about the charity and updates on our progress towards becoming a charity can be found here on our website. You can also email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.