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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 April 2021

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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Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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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:

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triangleDefend the right to protest - to resist bosses' attacks

triangleCovid, capitalism and mental health

triangleIndia's health system in meltdown under Modi's misrule

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triangleNationalise Liberty Steel to save jobs

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triangleBooks that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier

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triangleNottingham NHS pay protest

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triangleBeal school strikers suspend action after possible victory

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