'I don't know how we'll cope' - Ambulance driver who survived Covid coma has sick pay cut

  • Callum Fairhurst reports for ITV News Anglia

An ambulance driver who was put in a coma with Covid-19 he believes he caught at work says he does not know how his family will cope - after being told his sick pay is being stopped.

Nigel Fitzmaurice from Clacton was taken to Colchester Hospital in June 2020 with a severe case of Covid-19.

While in hospital, he suffered a bleed on the brain and was put into a coma and his family were told he may never wake up - though when he did wake up, he found his life was forever changed.

He has now been told by the East of England Ambulance Service he will receive no sick pay after August - a situation that has left him afraid about making ends meet.

Mr Fitzmaurice needs 24-hour oxygen, struggles to get around and has post traumatic stress disorder, among a host of other health complaints.

He told ITV News Anglia: "I'm never going to be able to work again. I've got no upper body strength. I wouldn't be able to lift people or to get down on my hands and knees and do CPR, there's just no chance. 

"Work have accepted that I'll never be able to work again but it seems they don't want to know. At the minute, I don't know month-to-month how much pay I will get."

Nigel Fitzmaurice in hospital with Covid-19 Credit: Family photo

A letter sent to Mr Fitzmaurice said that his sick pay would end in March this year, and from then until August he would only receive half sick pay - something he says is not enough to live on.

After August, he will receive nothing at all.

He argued his case with the trust, and did manage to receive full sick pay last month, but now says that his emails and messages to the trust are going unanswered.

"I feel a lot of the time people don't care" he said. "That's my biggest problem now.

"This is three years down the line now and in those three years my life has gone upside down. But no one wants to talk to us. I have no idea what's going on or how we will cope."

Nigel had to be put into a coma and his family were told he may never wake up Credit: Family photo

Nigel's partner, Lisa Oldershaw, also worked for the East of England Ambulance Service.

She said: "People don't realise that these three years have been absolute hell.

"It's life-changing. The Nigel that came out of hospital is not the Nigel that we knew. He's a totally different person.

"We just want some acknowledgement for what we've been through."

Nigel Fitzmaurice and his partner, Lisa, before he became ill Credit: Family photo

The couple believe the ambulance service should compensate him for remainder of what would have been his working life - a further seven years - and after that, allow him to retire with a pension.

The East of England Ambulance Service said in a statement: "The wellbeing of our colleagues is a top priority and we provide a wide range of support including occupational health assessments, wellbeing, family and financial advice, and practical help.

"The terms and rates of long-term sick pay are set nationally by the NHS which has also provided national guidance on supporting staff with long COVID.

"We urge any of our people experiencing long-term sickness to contact our support services to ensure they are getting all the help available to them."

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