AMBULANCE chiefs have called for Long Covid to be recognised as an occupational disease - after losing more than 30,000 working days to the condition.

Researchers have found one North West paramedic had been off sick for as long as 18 months while he or she dealt with the after-effects of the coronavirus-related complaint.

Campaigners have won the backing of an MP and city mayor as they take their battle to the government.

Under freedom of information laws, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus found for the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS), there had been 33,654 full-time equivalent days lost to Covid or related sickness between March, 2020 and September, 2021.

Nearly 400 of these involved a sickness absence period of more than 28 days at a time.

An estimated 1.2 million are said by the the Office of National Statistics to be living with Long Covid, with fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of smell and difficulty concentrating all common symptoms.

The APPG has applauded NWAS for adjustments made for affected staff and additional mental health support. But the group says more should be done to recognise the effect Long Covid is having on public services and introduce a Long Covid compensation scheme for frontline workers who have been impacted affected.

Worsley MP Barbara Keeley, vice-chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, said: “These statistics demonstrate the urgent need to recognise Long Covid as an occupational disease, provide formal guidance to employers on the issue and create a compensation scheme for key workers who have been unable to return to work.

“Many of these workers exposed themselves to the virus while saving others during the darkest days of this pandemic. The government cannot continue to ignore the sacrifices they have made while working to protect others.”

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool Metro Mayor, said: “While much of the focus of the past two years has been on fighting the pandemic, there hasn’t been enough attention paid to the two lurking endemics that Covid is causing, in mental health and in Long Covid. These figures show the scale of the impact that Long Covid is having on people’s lives and their ability to work and provide for their families.”