Healthcare workers with Long Covid eligible for 15,000 euros compensation
Healthcare workers suffering from Long Covid and who are still unfit for work will be eligible to receive a one-time compensation amount of 15,000 euros per person, Minister Conny Helder for Sport and Long-term Care announced on Friday. This applies to individuals who provided care for Covid-19 patients during the first wave of coronavirus infections in 2020 and contracted the virus as a result.
Helder said the Cabinet recognizes the high pressure and uncertainty faced by health professionals during the first wave of the pandemic. "We now know that there is a small group of these healthcare workers that are now unable to work as result, and that has a huge impact on their lives,” Helder wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the Dutch parliament, stating the compensation was a way “to support this group.”
According to FNV vice-chair Kitty Jong, this compensation “totally fails to do justice” to the moral obligation that the government has towards healthcare workers. The union argued that the scheme comes too late and is limited in scope, with the compensation amount being too low. In a summary court hearing, FNV and CNV asked for almost 23,000 euros per person as initial compensation. The preliminary relief judge rejected the demand, stating that each case should be individually assessed to determine whether a healthcare worker is entitled to damage compensation.
The FNV and CNV labor unions have long been advocating for a financial settlement for healthcare workers who can no longer work because of Long Covid, what is often also referred to as “Post Covid Syndrom.” They demand compensation for all healthcare workers who contracted Covid-19 in 2020 and are now unemployed after their sick leave ended, but still suffer from Long Covid symptoms. The unions also want workers who were similarly affected after the first wave to be compensated in a similar fashion. At the time, workers were informed that protective equipment, such as face masks, were not an absolute necessity, partly due to a shortage of supplies.
In her letter to the Tweede Kamer, Helder wrote that the Cabinet recognizes that a much larger group of people suffer from Long Covid, and will provide assistance to these people by funding research into the diagnosis and treatment of the symptoms.
The amount of 15,000 euros was chosen as it is the same compensation awarded to chronic Q fever patients who became sick between 2007 and 2011. The government noted significant parallels between the two conditions, such as limited knowledge about the disease and potential long-term symptoms.
Reporting by ANP