By: 29 January 2024
Bond Turner engaged to pursue claims for unprotected doctors

As reported by the BMJ, a group of doctors with long covid are preparing to launch a class action for compensation after contracting SARS-CoV-2 at work.

Law firm Bond Turner have been instructed by the campaign and advocacy group Long Covid Doctors for Action (LCD4A). They will aim bring claims for any physical injuries and financial losses sustained by frontline workers who were not adequately protected at work during the pandemic.

Bond Turner specialises in negligence cases, complex litigation, and group actions. On 25 January they launched a call to action inviting doctors and other healthcare workers in England and Wales to make contact if they believe that they contracted covid-19 as a result of occupational exposure.

Sara Stanger is the firm’s director and head of clinical negligence and serious injury claims. She stated that the ultimate aim was to achieve “legal accountability and justice for those injured.”

She told The BMJ, “I’ve spoken to hundreds of doctors with long covid, and many of them have had their lives derailed. Some have lost their jobs and their homes; they are in financial ruin. Their illnesses have had far reaching consequences in all areas of their lives.”

“We are at the investigation stage, but it is our intention to pursue whoever is at fault and whoever is considered liable for the injuries and losses—be that individual organisations such as NHS trusts or GP surgeries or government bodies. We have to look at who is the appropriate defendant.”

LCD4A chair, Kelly Fearnley, emphasized the importance of compensating UK healthcare workers whose lives have been “decimated”.

“Many of our members contracted covid at work whilst providing vital care to patients in absence of adequate airborne protection,” she said. “Doctors that were young, and previously fit and healthy with no comorbidities, are now living a life of chronic disability. Some are still bedbound or housebound after nearly four years. It’s utterly heartbreaking. There now needs to be legal accountability and justice for those injured.”

“The ongoing health impacts of SARS-CoV-2 mean many are still too unwell to return to work. Healthcare workers have not only been robbed of their health but also of their ability to work and earn a living. Several doctors have been forced to sell their homes. Some of our members have been forced to use food banks.”

Last year a survey conducted by the BMA and LCD4A found that almost one in five responding doctors (18%) with long covid were no longer able to work. Nearly half (49%) of the 603 respondents said that they had lost income as a result of long covid.

LCD4A and Bond Turner have urged the recognition of long/post-acute COVID as an occupational disease. This stance is supported by the BMA, the Royal College of Nursing, and the Trades Union Congress. They also aim to advocate for ensuring that all healthcare workers receive proper protection from airborne viruses at work. This  includes respiratory protection, ventilation systems, and air filter units.

Jonathan Fluxman, retired GP and LCD4A committee member, said, “The more people that join the class action, the greater the pressure on NHS organisations to put in place protections against airborne spread of respiratory viruses.”

 

Image: Canva
Emma Cockings
Emma is a junior editor for Claims Media.