Covid Scotland: Ending unlimited long Covid sick pay for NHS staff 'reckless'; argue Labour

Scottish Labour has branded moves to end unlimited sick pay for NHS workers suffering from long Covid “reckless” and fears staff may lose their jobs over the plans.

The party’s health spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, hit out at plans to go back to pre-Covid sickness arrangements, which will see staff get six months of full pay and six months of half pay if they are on long-term absence.

Ms Baillie warned members of staff may lose their jobs as a result of the change.

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Scottish Labour has branded moves to end unlimited sick pay for NHS workers suffering from long Covid 'reckless'. Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

She said: “This is a reckless move by the Cabinet secretary that could place staff and patients in danger.

“It is particularly difficult for those with long Covid, as their severe and debilitating condition means they cannot return to work quickly. This may lead to staff losing their jobs at a time when the NHS can ill afford to lose their expertise.

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“Covid is once more on the rise, so too is long Covid – for the SNP Government to drop support for frontline NHS staff at this time is short-sighted, dangerous and wrongheaded.”

Speaking to the Daily Record on Monday, unions have also questioned the move.

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Karen Leonard, of the GMB union, said the change made “no sense”. She said: “It makes no sense for the health secretary to take the NHS off an emergency footing or to remove the sick leave support measures in place for workers suffering with long Covid.”

Esther O’Hara, of Unite, echoed Ms Leonard’s concerns. She said not enough was known about the impact of long Covid, adding: “We don’t really know what long Covid is.

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“Will people always have it if they have it now? Will they gradually get better?

“Will they suddenly get better? Could they be fit enough to return to the workplace eventually? We just don’t know.

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“Until we have a better picture of what long Covid is going to be, we should continue with the Covid arrangements for NHS staff – not least because of what so many staff have done during the pandemic to look after and support the public.

“We do understand that the sick pay arrangements are very costly, but what are we saying to NHS workers about how the Government values them?”