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21 April 2021

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Long Covid: Fight for jobs, benefits and services

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo NIAID/CC

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo NIAID/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Jon Dale, Unite union EM/NG32 Nottinghamshire Health branch (personal capacity)

Illness and disability lasting more than three months after Covid affects almost 700,000 people in Britain. NHS services for them are still patchy and inadequate. And on top of uncertainty about their future health, many face the grim prospect of unemployment and poverty on paltry benefits.

An Office for National Statistics survey in February estimated 196,000 people had their day-to-day activities restricted "a lot" at least 12 weeks after Covid. 70,000 were still suffering after 12 months.

Tiredness, muscle aches, tinnitus, poor concentration and 'brain fog' are common symptoms, varying from person to person. Some have significant damage to heart, lungs, kidneys or other organs.

Unfortunately, 'long-Covid' sufferers are not the only people with similar problems. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) is sometimes post-viral and sometimes has no known trigger. It has been known about for years but its causes are still poorly understood. Around 250,000 adults are estimated to be affected.

Specialist NHS services saw around 14,000 CFS/ME patients in the UK in 2016 at a cost of 14 million - nowhere near enough to really support the large number affected. Yet, NHS England has announced it will spend a mere 10 million on clinics for the many more long-Covid patients.

With fatigue a major problem, clinics need to be local to avoid exhausting journeys, with staff to provide home visits when necessary. A major expansion is needed to provide easy access for everyone who needs it.

Much more research is also needed into the causes and possible treatments of both long-Covid and CFS/ME, which has long been neglected. This can't be left to charities and certainly not to for-profit pharmaceutical corporations.

Work or full pay

Many people experiencing long-Covid have been unable to return to work. Bosses may be on to their backs demanding performance targets they can't manage.

Anyone unable to return to work after Covid should have their jobs kept open for them and receive full sick pay (not the current measly 96 a week Statutory Sick Pay) while they are properly medically assessed; and then receive full NHS rehabilitation programmes. Trade unions need to protect workers from dismissal.

Those unable to return to their previous jobs need retraining opportunities, with guaranteed jobs at the end. Part-time and flexible working hours should be provided. Benefits need to either make up pay to a level people can live on or full benefits should do this - not the scandalously low levels the government pays now.

Unions must fight for jobs, benefits and services for all those still suffering ill health months after Covid infection.

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In The Socialist 21 April 2021:


What we think

Build a Socialist alternative

Capitalism discriminates against us - Disabled people fighting for our rights


Football

Football: no trust in billionaire owners - kick them out and reclaim the game


International

Left candidate, Pedro Castillo - surprise of Peruvian elections

USA: cop killings and the anti-racist movement

Superpowers' tensions continue to ratchet up


Elections

Don't trust the Labour right's empty promises

Fight to stop cuts

Keep Liverpool council's One Stop Shops open

Liverpool hustings - only TUSC has a strategy to take on the Tories

Essex: Why I'm standing for TUSC

Carlisle campaign day success

Socialist Party northern region meeting

With public campaigning back in full swing - now is the time to raise fighting fund


Workplace

Socialist Party members - part of a left challenge for Unison's leadership

Fight back against British Gas bosses' 'fire and rehire' offensive

Retail workers desperately need a fighting and democratic union

CWU BT ballot - time for action now!

Thurrock bin workers solid in strike against pay cuts

Bus workers protest Go-Ahead's 'fire and rehire'

Ballots to defend reps on Woolwich Ferry

PCS leadership ballot underway


News

Long Covid: Fight for jobs, benefits and services

Climate change - Johnson spouts 'greenwash 2.0'

Covid and precarious workers - union organisation vital

News in brief


Campaigns

Housing activists storm rental firm's offices

Protests continue against proposed anti-protest laws


 

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Related links:

Covid:

triangleCovid-19: New variant emerges but same old capitalist disease

triangleDVLA ballot turnout falls short of threshold

triangleHealth and care staff shortages worsened by Tory vaccine sacking threat

triangleRMT AGM: Delegates focus on the looming battles

triangleVaccine inequality - the ugly face of capitalism

Jobs:

triangleRMT strikes against abolition of night tube train operators

triangleKickstart scheme 'insufficient and flawed'

triangleYouth fight for well-paid green jobs and socialist change

triangleTV review Maid

Benefits:

triangleCarlisle says make the richest pay, not the poorest!

triangleUnite and fight for 30,000 permanent DWP jobs

triangleTory cuts to UC: we need a union fightback

NHS:

triangleNHS workers - vote yes for action to win a decent pay rise

triangleNHS Critical

Health:

triangleTories responsible for NHS staff shortages

Article dated 21 April 2021

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