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A leaked internal NHS memo has revealed the true strain Covid-19 has put on the health service, with workers stranded abroad for more than five days forced to take annual leave or go unpaid, and those exposed to confirmed coronavirus cases without protective kit still permitted to work.
Vulnerable staff members, including pregnant workers and those over 70, are being asked to remain at work, although away from “high risk” areas.
The memo, shared with HuffPost UK, and circulated to all staff members working at one NHS trust in England, reveals that staff stranded abroad for will go unpaid or be forced to take their absence as annual leave.
Travel bans and the grounding of some airlines have caused travel chaos worldwide.
Foreign secretary Dominic Raab confirmed last week that up to a million Britons could be stranded abroad, admitting: “If they can stay safely in the countries where they are for a period, I think that’s a choice they will have to think very seriously about.”
The NHS trust document obtained by HuffPost UK states: “We have agreed that managers should give up to 5 days paid special leave. If an employee requires a longer period of leave, this will need to be taken as annual leave or unpaid leave.”
Employees could also be asked to cancel their leave in “exceptional circumstances on a “case by case basis”.
Workers who have been exposed to patients with the virus have also been asked to continue working, even if they weren’t wearing personal protection equipment (PPE).
The Doctor’s Association said on Sunday that medics felt as though they were “lambs to the slaughter” amid the lack of access to proper protective clothing.
Christopher Furlong via Getty Images
The memo specifies that frontline staff who may have been exposed to the virus during an…