A North West Labour MP is calling on the Government to make sure people living with long-term effects of Covid-19 are adequately supported by the welfare system.
Andrew Gwynne, who himself is suffering from ‘Long Covid’, fears some workers may be laid off because they are no longer able to do their jobs. He says the Government should make sure employers are encouraged to help them as much as possible, as well as ensuring the benefit system recognises the condition.
“Work Capability Assessments that take place if you’re on Universal Credit or Jobseekers’ Allowance currently take no account of post-COVID syndrome and that needs to change. We’re talking potentially about hundreds of thousands of people could be laid off through no fault of their own because they’re unable to work, you need to have a social security safety net that’s going to protect them.”
ITV News has spoken to tens of people across the North West who are still living with long-term symptoms months after contracting the virus, including one who had to resign as she was no longer able to meet the demands of her job.
Those we have spoken to range in age from their early 20s to their early 60s, with many commenting that they used to lead very active lifestyles, but no longer feel able to do so.
Paul Garner, a professor at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, says those who still have symptoms need to learn to ‘accommodate’ their condition, rather than ‘beat’ it.
"Messages from Government that we will beat this disease and we will fight this disease are not helpful to people like me. I need to accept that I need to recover. People must not push through the fatigue, they must not push themselves. It will make the illness come back and delay the recovery."
Paul fears that if people do try to push through, that may delay their recovery further - adding that ‘their needs to be an appreciation of the random nature of this coming back.’
The Government is spending £8.4 million on research into the long-term physical and mental health implications. Around ten thousand patients will take part in the study, which is looking into possible ways to help improve the mental health of patients hospitalised with coronavirus, and how individual characteristics influence recovery, such as gender or ethnicity.
But while work is ongoing, survivors talk about struggling to get a diagnosis from their GP - amid confusion over what the symptoms might be.