Much-loved East Lothian GP weeps as she finds out she's lost her job of 10 years due to long Covid



Article By: Hilary Mitchell

"Long Covid means that I'm not functioning properly and I don't know when I'm going to function properly and the uncertainty is too much for my colleagues to deal with." She had worked at Prestonpans Health Centre for ten years.



An East Lothian GP who lost her job at Prestonpans Health Centre in October due to long Covid has shared a devastated video message that shows her reacting to the upsetting news.

10 to 20 per cent of people who have been diagnosed with Covid report experiencing long-lasting symptoms lasting longer than a month, and 2.2 per cent report having symptoms that last longer than 12 weeks

Prestonpans GP Dr Amy Small made a video diary for the BBC, which charted her experience with the illness, which she says causes her to experience fever, tiredness and "brain fog."

In a tearful address to camera on day 167 she said: "I'm now over five months in and I've just found out that I've lost my job. I'm not well enough to work and therefore unable to return to the job that I love and I have loved for a long time.

"Long Covid means that I'm not functioning properly and I don't know when I'm going to function properly and the uncertainty is too much for my colleagues to deal with.

"So as of now, I've got to try and work out how we're going to be able to afford our mortgage, fix our roof and see a way through the next few months. I know I'm not the only one in this boat and I just wonder how many more will end up like me."

The East Lothian GP's video diary goes on to explain that by day 207 she was put on medication that started to help her feel better, and started working as a Locum GP. She told the BBC:

"I'm not the first GP to lose my job over this and I'm not going to be the last. And I see many hospital colleagues getting to the six month plus point in their illness so it's going to start to impact in terms of the workforce. There are a lot of nurses and allied health professionals who are also off who I'm seeing on various forums so I think collectively it's going to start having a dent in the system."

She goes on to explain that she thinks she did catch the illness at work. She says NHS staff need support to help them get back to do the work that they love.

On 15 October, the Prestonpans Health Centre website was updated with a message from Dr Small, that said:

"Dear Patients

"After contracting Covid in April, it is with huge sadness that I will be leaving the partnership on 15th October 2020.

"I am devastated to be unable to return to my beloved practice and work; and deeply saddened that I have not been able to say any form of farewell to any of my patients, given my sudden onset illness and unforeseen departure now.

"The last ten years have been an absolute joy – and I am very proud of what we have achieved together as a practice in supporting the health and wellbeing of our local population. It has been a privilege to be your GP.

"As I continue to suffer from the ongoing symptoms of what is now recognised as ‘Long COVID’ I do not know what my own future holds.

"In the first instance, my priority will be to hopefully recover my own physical health over time – and then to be able to resume my vocation in due course.

"I love being a GP, and have missed my work, my colleagues and my patients this past six months.

"As the second wave of Covid unfolds, I urge you all to take great care, follow the guidance in staying safe – and to look after those you love.

"I will miss you all, and want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your messages of kindness during my sickness absence, and for your trust in my care as your GP over the last decade.

"Take care all – and stay safe.

"Yours,

"Amy."

After the video was shared into a local Facebook group, Dr Small's former patients at Prestonpans Health Centre shared their sadness at the situation she found herself in.

One woman said: "Dr. Small is lovely, when my dad was ill and I had to take him into hospital one day she was so caring. Get well soon Dr. Small. Prestonpans needs you."

Another patient added: "Hope she gets well soon. She's amazing doctor! I always specifically ask for her. I am so gutted that she's no longer there. I wish her all the best and i really hope she gets better soon."

And one local resident questioned the level of support she had received, saying: "Rather concerning this.. I was told she had 'left' and now this 'lost her job'.

"That is a worrying sign to me, leaving me thinking why did we clap in the first place to show our gratitude to all NHS workers working though this terrible virus...where is her support within her employment exactly?"

You can watch the full BBC video here > https://www.facebook.com/bbcscotlandnews/posts/3825506847473505



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