Enhanced sick pay for NHS staff with Covid to be scrapped as infections rise

·2-min read
NHS hosptial staff are set to face changes to enhanced pay  (PA Wire)
NHS hosptial staff are set to face changes to enhanced pay (PA Wire)

Enhanced sick pay which was given to NHS staff during the Covid-19 pandemic is set to be cut next month.

The special pay arrangements were offered to staff who were off work sick with either Covid or long Covid during the pandemic. Staff received pay if they were isolating from the virus and a full 12 months pay if they had long Covid.

Thousands of hospital workers were off work during the Christmas Omicron peak of the outbreak. At one point 10,000 hospital staff a day were absent during winter.

But the Department of Health and Social Care is set to scrap the special payments with arrangements to return to normal on July 7 for new episodes of Covid-19 sickness.

By September 1 all staff in receipt of Covid sick pay will revert back to their contractual terms and conditions.

Normal NHS sick rules allow staff six months of full pay and six months of half pay.

Royal College of Nursing (RCN) England director Patricia Marquis said the decision is “hugely disappointing”.

“Covid-19 clearly hasn’t gone away, and nursing staff continue to be disproportionately affected by the virus as they face higher risk of exposure.

“We know many of our members are suffering from long Covid, with their lives adversely affected, 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 the UK Government values its nursing staff.

“NHS pay is barely enough to make ends meet at the best of times, and this will be another blow for some struggling with Covid-19 related health issues.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson 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, as part of plans to move back to the normal arrangements set out in the NHS terms and conditions.

“This provides generous support for NHS staff with up to six months full pay and six months half pay, depending on length of service.”

Covid infections rose by more than 30 per cent in the last week with around 2.3 million people in private households estimated to have had the virus.

It is the highest number of infections since April, but still below the record high of 4.9 million reached at the end of March.

The current spike is being fuelled by the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5, the Office for National Statistics has warned.

UK hospitals have recorded around a three-fold increase in coronavirus admissions in the past month from 460 a day on May 28 to 1,400 now.

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