4,000 people unable to return to work due to long Covid – Naughten

In Health, News, Posts by Topic by Denis Naughten

As some long-Covid frontline healthcare staff face first week on welfare


It has been revealed that up to 4,000 people are in receipt of a disability payment from the Department of Social Protection because they are unable to return to work due to long Covid, following an analysis by Denis Naughten TD.

“While Government has yet to provide any figures on the incidence of long Covid, there is no doubt that these figures from the Department of Social Protection are indicative of a significant challenge that we are facing, particularly within our health service, to manage and treat the impacts associated with this condition,” said Denis Naughten.

“There was a sharp rise in the number of people in receipt of an illness payment experiencing Covid-19 in excess of 12 weeks over the winter period, the increase in numbers has now slowed but is still growing.

“As these figures are released, 180 frontline health staff who are out of work for months as a result of long Covid are facing into their first week without the financial support provided under the special sick pay scheme for Covid that finished on 30th June.

“The special sick pay scheme leaves these 180 staff on traditional sick pay methods, where they can receive full sick pay for 12 weeks, then half pay for another 12 weeks, before relying on social welfare. But because it operates on a rolling basis and sick pay taken in the past four years will be subtracted from the allowance, some of these staff are now facing their first week on a welfare payment.”

Denis Naughten added: “The figures I have obtained from the Department of Social Protection are only indicative of a much higher rate of long Covid in the community, with many people ineligible for such a welfare payment or back in work but with the illness impacting on their productivity and daily lives.

“However, these long Covid claimants who have been deemed medically unfit to work are now making up between 8-10% of the total number of Illness Benefit claims, which shows the real impact this condition is having on people’s lives. If these figures are reflected across the population as a whole, then this will have a significant impact on our society as well as our hospital waiting lists.

“Despite these very worrying trends the HSE is only now ‘scoping out’ a patient registry for long Covid. So how can we manage this medical condition when we are not even measuring it?” asked Denis Naughten.


Editor’s Note:


PQ figure date Enhanced Illness Benefit (Covid-19) claimants 10+ Illness Benefit 2+ weeks  post EIB claimants
15th September 767 460
14th February 4,314 3,018
31st March 4,811 3,428
24th June 5,291 3,783

Graph 1.Enhanced Illness Benefit (Covid) payment claimed in excess of 10 weeks

Graph 2. Claimants on Enhanced Illness Benefit (Covid) for more than 10 weeks who transferred over to standard Illness Benefit

Welfare PQ replies

HSE Letter on clinics