Wednesday 01 February 2023

First Long Covid legal cases involve healthcare staff: RTL Nieuws

Photo: Despositphotos.com

At least five people who developed Long Covid through their jobs are planning to sue their employers for financial and emotional damage, according to RTL Nieuws.

But lawyers, unions, company doctors and academics expect many more cases will arise and say they could take years to reach a conclusion, RTL said.

One case involves a residential care nurse who was told to take care of a patient without protective clothing. It later transpired that the unit manager knew the patient may have had coronavirus.

The nurse has been at home for almost two years with Long Covid, and her salary has been reduced in line with sick pay regulations.

Ambulance worker Lenny Wagemans is also holding her former employer responsible for her illness. She picked up coronavirus in March 2020 after a patient coughed all over during a trip to hospital. She too did not have a face mask or other protection.

Dealing with work related illnesses is often complex and with Covid it is difficult to establish exactly where an infection took place, said Utrecht University researcher Marlou Overheul. ‘You might have picked up coronavirus somewhere else and that can have an impact on a damages claim,’ she said.

According to Marike Schooneveldt from trade union FNV, it can take around five years to settle a work-related illness case.

Nurses

The FNV said last month over 500 healthcare workers face losing their jobs because they are suffering from Long Covid and have been on sick pay for the regulation two years.

In total 1,850 healthcare workers contacted an FNV hotline about the issue, which was opened in December. The public health institute RIVM estimates 238,000 healthcare workers caught coronavirus and, the FNV says, most of the Long Covid reports they have had come from people who work in nursing homes or as community nurses.

Permanent employees are paid at least 70% of their salary for two years if they become unable to work through ill health, although some employers increase this to 100%.

Motion

MPs have voted in favour of a motion which calls on the government to formally recognise Long Covid as an illness and which will ensure all nursing staff are entitled to invalidity benefits.

The government has asked the national health council to make recommendations about how to deal with Long Covid which will be published in the first quarter of this year.

That report will specifically look into the the situation facing healthcare workers and their income if they develop Long Covid, a health ministry spokesman said.

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