Family physicians are forced to leave their jobs after long-term development of Covid, prompting lawsuits for the government to compensate NHS staff with a debilitating condition that they are unable to work.
Family physicians struggling with the disease have told the Observer they were “shocked and betrayed” when their colleagues removed them from their posts due to a prolonged sick leave.
“I received a letter from a lawyer on behalf of the other partners in the GP’s surgery telling me that they were going to end my association. I understood why they did what they did, because I was too sick to work at the time. But he was also cruel and mercenary, ”said a doctor who lost his job.
“It was difficult for me, as one of the partners was also my best friend. The partners were concerned that I was a ‘disabled partner’ and couldn’t do anything. Long Covid meant that I just couldn’t function normally and therefore couldn’t meet the return to work date they gave me, so they exercised their right under our partnership agreement to terminate my partnership in surgery. ” added the GP, who asked to remain anonymous.
“I thought they were being very nearsighted as I started to feel a lot better once I took the medication, and within a few weeks I was working full time again. I know of three other GPs who got Covid and then lost Covid and then lost their jobs because they were too sick to go back to work at the end of the partnership agreement after six, nine or 12 months. “
The problem has sparked an examination of conscience within the medical profession about the duty of care that family doctors owe to each other when unable to work because they have been dejected by exhaustion, brain fog, shortness of breath and other symptoms. of prolonged Covid.
Substitute physicians and hospital physicians with the condition also have issues including loss of income, problems accessing sick pay, contractual difficulties, and getting employers to accept that they cannot work normally, sometimes for months.
The British Medical Association, the main doctors union, said it has long advised 42 members with Covid on salary and work difficulties, and that the actual number of doctors in that situation is likely to be much higher. The 42 include general practitioners, specialists, fellows and 17 hospital consultants.
Dr. Kaveri Jalundhwala, a doctor-in-training, who has been battling Covid for a long time since April 2020, has not been able to work a full week since then. “I had to agree to work at 60%, so it is a loss of thousands a year, a significant pay cut. Due to my illness, they have probably added six to eight months to my training time, which means a delay in passing out as a GP.
“As an anecdote, I have heard from several doctors who have lost their jobs. They have ranged from GP partners, GP substitutes, salaried GPs, hospital consultants and hospital substitutes. “
Dr. Sarah Burns, who helped create a Facebook group to doctors with long Covid Last year, he said: “As an anecdote and from multiple sources, not just from the Facebook group, I have heard about several doctors who have lost their jobs or faced significant financial difficulties due to the long Covid. These are mainly GPs, who have not had the same access to sick pay as colleagues in the hospital. “
Dr David Strain, a longtime BMA spokesperson on Covid, said that extended sick leave for doctors with the condition was “more complicated” in primary care because while hospital doctors are employed directly by the NHS, GPs work in surgeries, which are private companies.
“Most of the hospitals have been very supportive to me. But some doctors who have wanted to go back to work three instead of five days a week, because that is all they can do, have discovered that their trust has not wanted to pay them for five days, “he said, despite the fact that almost with certainty. having hired Covid in the course of their work. One of the 42 had to seek help from the BMA when their hospital withdrew their on-call supplement when they were unable to return to night shifts because they were unwell to work at night.
The BMA and other health unions are in talks with the Department of Health and Social Assistance for the government to establish a compensation plan that both NHS staff and their employers could access when one of them is unable to work during a prolonged period due to COVID-19.
The Office of National Statistics Last month it was estimated that 1.1 million Britons have Covid for a long time. It found that 122,000 healthcare workers were affected, more than any other type of employee, and ahead of teachers and other educational personnel (114,000) and social care personnel (31,000).