Tag Archives: long covid

20-21 April 2024 – the weekend’s press releases

  • Lord Cameron urged to answer questions in the House of Commons amid global conflicts
  • Long Covid may have reduced Scotland’s GDP by £120m and cost 11,000 jobs
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats attack Government over GP closures
  • Blackie: Abolish London’s bedtime

Lord Cameron urged to answer questions in the House of Commons amid global conflicts

  • Liberal Democrats call on “unelected and unaccountable Foreign Secretary” to take questions from MPs
  • Layla Moran MP writes directly to the Foreign Secretary demanding accountability

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Layla Moran MP, has written to the Foreign Secretary urging him to appear in the House of Commons this week.

The letter to Lord Cameron follows escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, a G7 Summit, and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Last week, the government blocked a request by cross-party MPs which called on Lord Cameron to be accountable for the question.

In the letter, Layla Moran MP writes:

The public are demanding answers from you about the government’s response to these situations.

Every day thousands of people write to their MPs, wanting to know what the government is doing to ensure aid can reach the people of Gaza, why we haven’t proscribed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or wanting to know how we are combatting Russia’s expansionist exploits into our allies’ territory.

In the 21st century, it should not be the case that our Foreign Secretary is both unelected and unaccountable.

You speak on behalf of the United Kingdom as our most senior diplomat. Yet you refuse to speak to your own elected Members of Parliament.

Our constituents must have the ability to have their concerns put directly to the Foreign Secretary.

Long Covid may have reduced Scotland’s GDP by £120m and cost 11,000 jobs

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has today called on the Scottish Government to develop a long-term plan for tackling Long Covid after a new economic report indicated that the condition may have reduced Scotland’s GDP by a massive £120m.

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The shadow of Covid

Today is Long Covid Awareness day. It is strange that such a day should be necessary, given how many people’s lives Covid and Long Covid have touched in this country and around the world. Yet it is very necessary as the prevailing public discourse is that Covid is over, and it was never much of a problem to start with. Yet it still kills every week throughout the year, and an estimated 2 million people have Long Covid, affecting their health, and the country’s economy.

The ongoing Covid pandemic is a catastrophic example of the failures of the UK’s public health system. (I refer here primarily to English experience. The devolved administrations have done better than England, but are still affected to a large and tragic extent by the factors discussed below.) Covid requires both treatment and prevention, both medical and public health intervention, and both short and long term strategies with public, professional and political support.

The NHS did immensely well and the government moderately well in the initial phases; the public in general also did well in dealing with the restrictions and exigencies of lockdown. But there were clearly right from the beginning several negatives, which broadly compromised the capacity of public health approaches to be as effective as they could, and have badly compromised government action and professional and public response in the years since the emergency phase:

a) the instinctive reaction of our right wing governments that private provision must be better than public, so wasting billions of taxpayers’ pounds employing immensely expensive private firms to set up a ramshackle test and trace system rather than using existing public health capacity.

b) corruption in government, making sure for instance that funds for the provision of PPE went to their friends rather than to companies with proven track records in such provision.

c) vociferous anti-science and anti-clear thinking conspiracists given far too much air time on both social and traditional media.

d) a kind of neoliberal reductionism in which marginal increases in economic activity like enabling people to go to pubs again are valued far more than keeping people healthy; and school attendance is valued far more highly than reducing transmission – which has resulted in current high rates of absence of both children and teachers through sickness.

e) a refusal from government to take simple steps that might reduce transmission, such as ensuring air filtration in all classrooms and other public spaces which could easily and relatively cheaply have been done in the last four years.

f) short term and blinkered thinking in government and in public debate, in which the most important, and sometimes, the only important metric is death rates, leading us to ignore the creeping epidemic of long term illness and other forms of severe damage which Covid is wreaking on millions of people. We seem to be terrible at assessing long term risk: the fact that we got over a bout of Covid means we ignore the mountain of evidence that it will have done damage to one or more of our organs, which we will regret in ten or fifteen years time.

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Breathtaking – a personal perspective

Yesterday morning, Dr Rachel Clarke and healthcare professionals were disgustingly abused on social media for telling how it was as the Coronavirus Pandemic unfolded. The ITV drama Breathtaking, shown this week,  is an adaptation of Clarke’s novel about the impact of the pandemic on hospital staff. 

Healthcare staff making TikTok videos weren’t sacrificing patient care – it was on breaks and days off. With what we were dealing with, why do many begrudge us trying to raise our own morale then? When nurses couldn’t buy groceries because supermarkets were stripped by the time they got off shift? Hospital staff being assaulted in car parks because they were allegedly a) spreading Covid or b) refusing to permit people to see family members? 

Many insist we have vaccine injuries  – the vaccines that weren’t rolled out until late 2020. That Covid is just a cold and Long Covid don’t exist? 

Science is overwhelming in terms of the latter and a timeline proves the former. YouTube and social media are not peer-reviewed sources of scientific research. 

I see new people coming into Long Covid peer support groups. There is still no healthcare, no move from governments to properly tackle this economy-harming issue, no improvements to ensure our future – the kids now getting repeated infections from a relatively novel virus without any idea of what it might do to them in the long term.

Millions of us are still sick. In the U.K., we don’t have financial support. The data doesn’t exist. The situation is underreported and appalling. Governments refuse to acknowledge any culpability or responsibility for us. They won’t change ventilation or air purification standards and so on. 

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Christine and Layla join workers to deliver Long Covid petition to Downing Street

Yesterday was International Long Covid Day, a day to raise awareness of the impact of Long Covid and to campaign for more action to support the tens of millions  who suffer from it worldwide and more research into treatments to alleviate its symptoms.

As one of the 1.8 million British people who have this horrible condition, I know only too well the debilitating impact it can have on your life. Back in October I summated Alex Cole-Hamilton’s motion calling for a cross government package of support. Five months on, I am gradually getting stronger, but recovery is far from linear. Though I’m slowly getting back to work, it generally takes two days to recover from a commute into the office.

Now I got it after two doses of the vaccine and a booster. The frontline workers who came down with it in the early days had no such defence.  Those workers put themselves in harm’s way to look after the rest of us, so of course we are looking after them now aren’t we?

Well, we should be, but we aren’t. Fellow Scottish Lib Dem activist and nurse Cass Macdonald caught Covid in April 2020. I remember how sick they were at the time, but their symptoms have persisted. They and two others started a petition calling for a compensation scheme which has attracted more than 120,000 signatures.

It is beyond disgraceful that people who contracted this disabling condition in our service have been basically hung out to dry and face losing jobs, incomes and homes as a result.

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186 days – my misadventures with Long Covid

186 days. Not far off half a year. That’s how long it’s been since I first had Covid symptoms.

We had tried very hard to avoid it for 26 months, but our son going to a Marina and Diamonds concert in Dublin at the end of May was always going to be a high risk endeavour. Within days we were all suffering. At first I was the best off of all of us so I was running round after everyone else. Then on 5th June, I could barely get up.

The salutary tale from my experience is that if you are election agent for multiple wards in your local area, get your expenses done immediately after the election. Mine were all done and signed by the candidates before I became ill. I just had to print off my declarations, sign and submit before the deadline on 10th June. I could, thankfully submit them online, but that simple task was herculean and broke me on several occasions before I finally managed it.

Since then, I haven’t got that much better. The cough may have disappeared after a month, but I have yet to manage to spend a whole day out of bed, and if I overdo it, the punishment is vicious. Eight days ago, I went out for a special family lunch. I did get home a couple of hours  later than I’d planned but I didn’t recover from that until midweek. I had a meeting to attend online on the day after but I couldn’t speak reliably. Words were getting lost somewhere between my brain and my mouth.  I had to message someone else and ask them to make the point I needed to make.

The crushing, all-encompassing fatigue is the absolute worst, but it has a backing chorus of pain, nausea, dizziness, breathlessness and gastric issues which, seemingly randomly, throw themselves into the spotlight on any given day.

I reckon that on a good day, I’m operating at about 25-35% of my pre Covid capacity. On a bad day, I am flat out.

Being able to do something one day is absolutely no guarantee that you will be able to do it the next. Some days I can write well in small bursts, but there was one day recently when it took me an hour to put up a relatively simple post on here.

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Layla Moran calls for compensation for key workers who have long Covid

Layla Moran has been talking to the media today about long Covid. She makes the case that it should be recognised as an occupational disease, and that compensation should be given to key workers who suffer from it.

She is appearing on Question Time this evening, so she may well take the opportunity to press her argument.

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Layla Moran: Protect frontline workers who have Long Covid

You would think, wouldn’t you, that if you caught a disease because of your work, that your employer would be obliged to look after you.

This is not the case for frontline workers, even public sector workers. In a parliamentary debate she’d secured on Long Covid, Layla Moran highlighted the cases of three who had experienced the wrath of HR departments after contracting long Covid.

Take Daisy, an NHS nurse in Wales. For four months she received reduced and then no pay from NHS Cymru, which told her that it was unable to support staff who contracted covid-19. Her case was resolved, but she continues to say that this issue has not been resolved at a national level in Wales. That story, and many others like it, have left me speechless—a headteacher and a nurse, key workers on the frontline, who have no choice but to do their job with inadequate personal protective equipment and testing, and now face financial ruin for doing their duty. It is unacceptable, which is why the APPG recommends that the UK Government recognise long covid as an occupational disease and institute a long covid compensation scheme for frontline workers.

She asked the Minister for three things – better reporting of Long Covid – with the daily stats – research into the condition and how to treat it and recognition of the condition in the social security system and by employers.

I know several friends who have Long Covid and it is really debilitating.

Alistair Carmichael also spoke in the debate, saying that he expected problems in the social security system which had already shown its utter uselessness in dealing with people with ME.

There must be more flexibility in how the system responds to people who are affected in this way. The point has been made to me by constituents that there is a lot of crossover between the symptoms and treatment of people with long covid and those who suffer from ME; I think that point was also made by the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams). Certainly, looking back over the years at the way in which the benefits system has coped with people who suffer from ME, let alone the medical profession, we can see that this will be a problem with which we shall have to come to terms for some considerable time.

A Universal Basic Income would make a big difference, he said.

As the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Long Covid, Layla can speak with some authority on these issues. I think that the UK Government has been better than the Scottish Government which doesn’t even have a decent strategy for dealing with Long Covid and that in part is due to the fact that Layla’s leadership on this has been so good.

Here is Layla’s whole speech:

I would like to start by thanking the Backbench Business Committee for giving us time to debate long covid today. I also thank members of the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus, especially the hon. Member for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Dr Poulter) and my hon. Friend the Member for Denton and Reddish (Andrew Gwynne), who co-sponsored the debate. Most of all, I want to thank everyone who has written to me, the all-party group or their own MP in the last few weeks with their stories. Their accounts are deeply moving. Today’s debate is for them.

In one such email, a constituent of mine said,

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26 September 2020 – conference day 2 press releases

  • Liberal Democrats condemn health inequalities “exposed in technicolour” by Covid crisis
  • Liberal Democrats demand Raab steps up sanctions against China over treatment of Uyghurs
  • Liberal Democrats call on Government to tackle ‘Long Covid’

Liberal Democrats condemn health inequalities “exposed in technicolour” by Covid crisis

In her first keynote address as Liberal Democrat Health, Wellbeing and Social Care spokesperson Munira Wilson will condemn the health inequalities “exposed in technicolour” through the COVID-19 crisis, and call for a Minister for Wellbeing to ensure that Government decisions are “fundamentally in keeping with health and wellbeing.” She is expected to say:

The coronavirus has not just laid bare the fundamental problems facing our NHS and care sectors, it has exposed in technicolour the health inequalities facing the UK, and shown us why we need to rethink the way we see healthcare as a whole.

We have seen the impact of poor and overcrowded housing, insecure employment and our broken welfare system on not just our physical health, but also our mental health and wellbeing.

We have seen those health inequalities play out in real time, most shockingly in the disproportionate impact of COVID on people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, on people with disabilities, and on the poorest.

When we think about the future, it’s clear that going “back to normal” is not an option. It is time to re-boot and re-think the way we live our lives, and the Government’s role in helping us to do so in a more sustainable, healthier way.

That starts with making someone at the Cabinet table responsible: a Minister for Wellbeing who will scrutinise the Government’s actions and ensure they are fundamentally in keeping with health and wellbeing.

As well as this, in the same way that Equality Impact Assessments pushed equality up the agenda, we need to introduce wellbeing assessments to make sure new laws empower people to live healthier lives.

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