Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have Long Covid. Soon, they’ll seek care from a crunched health system unequipped to help them and financial support from a Government which has closed its wallet, Marc Daalder reports
This is not just a health crisis, set to induce huge demand for primary health services in a system already stretched to the limits. It will also have long-lasting social and economic ramifications as Long Covid patients find themselves unable to work, unable to afford housing, unable to maintain relationships or even care for their children.
“We know that huge numbers of people can’t afford to see a GP when they need to. We know that to get a diagnosis, just making a comparison with ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you need many, many, many visits to rule out all these underlying things before a diagnosis will be arrived at,” Jeffreys said.
ACC has declined to cover the condition if it can’t be proven that Covid-19 was caught in the workplace and Long Covid isn’t considered a disability eligible for government support.
“We need to accept ME and Long Covid as a disability as well, rather than a chronic condition,” Jeffreys said, echoing the comments of Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero at the symposium. “Because again that’s all related to how GP visits are funded and what sort of WINZ support people can get.”