NHS England Announces Long Covid Patients To Get Help At More Than 60 Clinics
Across the country, thousands of patients suffering with the long term symptoms of coronavirus will be able to access specialist help at more than 60 sites, NHS England have announced.
North Cumbria Integrated Care is one of the Trusts earmarked for the service. The trust along with GP partners and the CCG are currently developing the service which they hope to be in place early next year.
A Trust spokesperson said:
“We are very pleased that we have been given funding to develop a service dedicated to those who are suffering the lasting effects of COVID. In the first wave the Trust quickly established that patients were suffering the effects of this nasty virus for a long time after they had first contracted it. The effects were not always the same though, many had long lasting breathing issues, others suffered from severe tiredness but it was clear that ongoing support was required for people who had what we now know as ‘long COVID’. Within our current services we already support patients with long COVID but, thanks to the extra funding, we are able to recruit more therapy and wellbeing staff to be able to offer a more holistic service for those who suffer from the long term effects of the virus.”
More details on what the service will provide will be shared early next year as the service develops.
NHS England has provided £10 million for the network of clinics, which started opening last month. There are now 69 operating across the country with hundreds of patients already getting help.
New research has shown one in five people with coronavirus develop longer term symptoms. Around 186,000 people suffer problems for up to 12 weeks, the Office for National Statistics found.
Patients will be able to access services if they are referred by a GP or another healthcare professional, so that doctors can first rule out other possible underlying causes for symptoms.
Dr Graham Burns, clinical lead at the long covid centre at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, said: “In the first wave of the pandemic many people did not recover as quickly as they’d expected. We had no idea what long covid was - the world had never seen COVID-19 before. We set up the clinic in Newcastle to support patients, but it has also been invaluable in helping us understand what long covid is.
“I’m delighted that patients now have places to turn to across the country turn and on a national scale doctors will be able to learn from our collective experience and offer tailored support to patients.”
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering ongoing health issues as a result of coronavirus. Bringing expert clinicians together in these clinics will deliver an integrated approach to support patients access vital rehabilitation, as well as helping develop a greater understanding of long covid and its debilitating symptoms.”
Ten sites are now operational in London, seven in the East of England, eight in the Midlands, South East and South West respectively, nine in the North West and a further 18 across the North East and Yorkshire.
The NHS has also launched a long covid taskforce, with patients, charities, researchers and clinicians involved, to help lead the NHS response to long covid, produce information and support materials for patients and healthcare professionals, and develop a wider understanding of the condition.