As the global COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, evidence has emerged that some people are experiencing prolonged multiorgan symptoms and complications beyond the initial period of acute infection. This multi-system illness, known as Long COVID or post-COVID-19 syndrome, is a chronic fatigue syndrome and a growing public health concern. According to the REACT-2 studies, over 2 million people in England may have had Long COVID, although the full scope of the problem is not yet defined. The causes of Long COVID are complex, multifactorial and not well understood. However, it is believed that older people, women, people with high BMI and those with more than five symptoms in the first week of their illness are more likely to develop it. There are many different symptoms of Long COVID but the most common ones include fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory and concentration, as well as difficulty sleeping.
The complexity of Long Covid, which presents in a number of ways, may pose a huge challenge for employers. Long Covid can have long-term consequences and debilitating effect on an individual’s ability to carry out day to day activities including coming back to work. As well as managing absences, employers also need to address issues with employees who may try to continue working with Long Covid but are unable to perform at their normal level because of the symptoms they experience.
The Society of Occupational Medicine has made an urgent appeal for organisations to take a collaborative approach and provide occupational health support and guidance for staff who may be suffering from Long COVID. Also, the SOM has published guidance for managers on how they can assist the staff in returning to work with ongoing symptoms following COVID-19 infection and Long COVID.
At Corazon Health we can also support your staff through our Management Referral Service, which offers specialist, independent medical assessment and clinical opinion of referred employees. The service will assess employees on long-term sick leave, advise on the likely timescale of the absence and promote an effective return to work. We would also provide advice on temporary or permanent changes to the work duties to enable employees to work effectively and safely.
If you would like to access our Management Referral Service to support your employees suffering from Long COVID, please get in touch with us. You can also find out more about this new illness in the booklet below: