Thank you for contacting me about diabetes during the Coronavirus pandemic.
I know that Diabetes has emerged as a significant risk factor for patients with Coronavirus, and that the NHS is strongly encouraging patients with Diabetes to manage their condition using a dedicated helpline and online tools throughout the outbreak. These tools form part of the diabetes prevention programme, but are more useful than ever while people with Diabetes are at greater risk of infection.
While this is worrying news, the NHS is available to anybody with concerns, and I urge people to make contact with their medical teams if they need additional support or if they have any further questions.
Further, clinically vulnerable individuals, who are at higher risk of severe illness (for example, people with some pre-existing conditions including diabetes), have been asked to take extra care in observing social distancing if unable to work from home.
An employer is expected to make every effort to enable any clinically vulnerable employees to work from home. It could be that an employer may be able to offer different types of leave, different working patterns or perhaps a different role.
If this is not possible, and the clinically vulnerable individual has been asked to return to their workplace, their employer should enable them to keep 2 metres from others at all times. They should be offered the safest role on site and, if contact with others is required, an employer should assess if this involves an acceptable level of risk.
There are several support schemes available to businesses who are struggling during this crisis, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Self-employment Income Support Scheme. These schemes are designed to support both employers and employees and to protect jobs. If you are having difficulty in accessing this support, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
It is important to state that employees have protection against unfair dismissal and, if they believe they have been unfairly dismissed, which could possibly be on the grounds of discrimination, they could challenge it at an employment tribunal. Further details can be found online here.
While businesses can only re-open in accordance with COVID-19 Secure guidelines, which does include a risk assessment, employers have a responsibility to protect their employees and make any possibly adjustments to help improve working arrangements.
Thank you again for contacting me on this very important issue. If you would like to stay up to date with the latest information from me, you can sign up to my e-newsletter here.