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Doctors slam cutting of sick pay for NHS workers with Covid

THE Tory government’s “completely unacceptable” decision to cut enhanced sick pay and special leave for NHS workers with Covid-19 will “put patients and staff at significant risk,” doctors warned yesterday.

The move, which comes into effect across England on today, has already been attacked by nurses as cases of the virus rise once again. 

Recorded infections soared by more than 30 per cent during the week ending June 25, according to the Office for National Statistics, with an estimated 2.3 million people across Britain thought to have coronavirus. 

Despite growing concerns, ministers have chosen to withdraw Covid-19 workforce guidance for health workers, meaning an immediate end to sick pay for new episodes of illness linked to the disease and no more access to special leave for those needing to self-isolate.

“Healthcare workers are in harm’s way, caring for patients who are infected, and this vital provision helped ensure that they faced no detriment if they needed to self-isolate or became unwell,” said Professor Raymond Agius, co-chairman of the British Medical Association’s medicine committee.

He added: “The removal of this provision will not only force many staff to continue working if symptomatic but may have a significant impact on their livelihoods if they develop long Covid.

“Removing this support is unsafe for patient care and pressuring people to return to work, which ultimately this will do, is appalling and demonstrates once again that the government doesn’t care about the health and wellbeing of NHS staff.”

Condemning the “hugely disappointing” decision, Royal College of Nursing England director Patricia Marquis said: “Covid-19 clearly hasn’t gone away and nursing staff continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus.

“We know many of our members are suffering from long Covid, making them unable to work. Facing the threat of losing full sick pay should they remain off sick from a condition some could argue is an occupational hazard is neglectful and unfair.

“It’s another indication of how little this government values its nursing staff.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “As we learn to live with Covid, we are withdrawing the temporary NHS staff sickness guidance that was put in place at the height of the pandemic.

“[This is] part of plans to move back to the normal arrangements set out in NHS terms and conditions.”

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