Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne says he still suffers with some symptoms of long Covid, despite catching the virus ‘107 weeks and four days ago’.
Shadow health minister Andrew Gwynne revealed he still suffers with some of the symptoms of long Covid, despite catching the virus “107 weeks and four days ago”.
这 Denton and Reddish MP thanked the Commons Speaker and his staff for making “reasonable adjustments” for him when he returned to 议会 after the summer recess, as he admitted “almost collapsing during a ministerial statement on Afghanistan”, where he had been bobbing up and down for almost an hour.
然而, Mr Gwynne stressed “reasonable adjustments” should not only be made for members of Parliament and urged the Government to do more when it comes to workplace protections for long Covid.
The Labour frontbencher said: “Back in March 2020, I first caught Covid. That was 107 weeks and four days ago, and I am still struggling with some of the symptoms of long Covid all these weeks and days later.
“当年, I felt rough with Covid, but to my relief avoided a lot of the more serious symptoms that we were seeing on the news and hearing from friends and colleagues at that time. It wasn’t great, but I wasn’t hospitalised.
“然而, when my self-isolation period ended and, 理论上, I should have been returning to work, I found that I couldn’t. I found that I was perpetually exhausted. I couldn’t catch my breath.”
Mr Gwynne paid tribute to Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle and his staff for making “reasonable adjustments” when when hybrid proceedings in the Commons ended.
他说: “When I first returned to the House in person after the summer recess, I found that I couldn’t bob in the chamber without becoming incredibly fatigued, and that that would trigger my brain fog and after almost collapsing during a ministerial statement on Afghanistan, where I had been bobbing for almost an hour I arranged for a meeting with the Speaker, on the basis that I can’t do my job.”
The Commons Speaker advised Mr Gwynne to simply hold his order paper up instead of having to stand.
The shadow health minister said: “But reasonable adjustments should not just be made for members of Parliament. The Government needs to be doing much more to empower employees to approach their bosses and have these kinds of conversations.
“The problem is with practically zero workplace protections for long Covid in place, these conversations become incredibly difficult to have.”
Mr Gwynne’s comments came during a backbench debate on the impact of long Covid on the UK workforce.
Liberal Democrat Layla Moran urged the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to “urgently prioritise research treatments for long Covid patients”, and to publish employer guidelines “to help all businesses help their employees back into work”.
She also called for the Government to launch a compensation scheme for “frontline workers currently living with long Covid, very similar to example for the armed forces compensation scheme”.
She said designating long Covid as an occupational disease “could be game changing, particularly in those public sector areas where the prevalence was incredibly high, so particularly education, the health and social care workforce, but actually also public transport workers were among some of the highest prevalence of Covid particularly at the beginning”.
同时, Labour MP for Putney Fleur Anderson compared the battle to highlight long Covid to a past campaign to highlight how chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), had not been taken seriously enough.
Ms Anderson said people with ME “have been underestimated, not believed, not supported, when they have gone to their GP they have been told the wrong advice, actually advice that makes their ME worse, they have not been understood in schools whether by those who are young people or those who are teachers, they have not been understood by their employers.
“They don’t want anyone with long Covid to go through the same.”
DUP MP for Strangford Jim Shannon spoke about the past difficulties with convincing doctors of ME, 添加: “The understanding of what ME was about was not really known at that stage, so we had incredible battles to fight to get the evidential base to prove that someone had ME.”
Business minister Paul Scully told MPs the Government’s starting position is that long Covid should be “treated the same as any other long-term health condition” as it is important to have a “single consistent and clear approach to managing health in the workplace”.
He stressed that the Government’s response to the consultation on proposals to reduce ill-health related job loss will include “greater clarity around employment, employee rights and responsibilities by developing a national digital information and advice service”.
He added that it would also include “working with the health and safety executive to develop a set of clear and simple principles that employers will be expected to apply to support disabled people and those with long-term health conditions in the work environment and increasing access to occupational health services”.