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UK: Long COVID hits NHS hard

In what could be a warning for Australia's health system and our federal government, NHS trusts in England lost almost 2 million days in staff absences due to long COVID in the first 18 months of the pandemic, according to figures that reveal the hidden burden of ongoing illness in the health service.

MPs on the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus estimate that more than 1.82m days were lost to healthcare workers with long COVID from March 2020 to September 2021 across England’s 219 NHS trusts. The estimate is based on data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from 70 NHS trusts and does not include the impact of the highly transmissible Omicron variant that has fuelled record-breaking waves of infection in the UK and globally since it was first detected in November.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrat MP who chairs the APPG, said the government had paid “almost no attention to long COVID and the severe impact it was having on vital public services” and called for immediate support for those affected. “Thousands of frontline workers are now living with an often debilitating condition after being exposed to the virus while protecting this country,” she said. “They cannot now be abandoned.”

The Office for National Statistics estimates that 1.3 million people, or 2 per cent of UK's population, are living with long COVID, based on people self-reporting symptoms that last more than a month after a COVID infection. More than half a million have had symptoms for at least a year, with ailments ranging from breathlessness, fatigue and a cough to muscle aches and pains, “brain fog”, headaches and palpitations. Read more: The Guardian. Source: Risks 1030 

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