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NHS to offer ‘Long Covid’ sufferers help at specialist centres

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People suffering 'Long Covid’ symptoms will be offered specialist help at clinics across England, the head of the NHS announced today.

Respiratory consultants, physiotherapists, other specialists and GPs will all help assess, diagnose and treat thousands of sufferers who have reported symptoms ranging from breathlessness, chronic fatigue, 'brain fog', anxiety and stress.

Speaking at the NHS Providers conference today (Wednesday), NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens will announce that £10 million is be invested this year in additional local funding to help kick start and designate Long Covid clinics in every area across England, to complement existing primary, community and rehabilitation care.

Sir Simon said new network will be a core element of a five-part package of measures to boost NHS support for Long Covid patients:

  1. New guidance commissioned by NHS England from NICE by the end of October on the medical ‘case definition’ of Long Covid. This will include patients who have had covid who may not have had a hospital admission or a previous positive test. It will be followed by evidence-based NICE clinical guidelines in November on the support that Long Covid patients should receive, enabling NHS doctors, therapists and staff to provide a clear and personalised treatment plan. This will include education materials for GPs and other health professionals to help them refer and signpost patients to the right support.
  2. The ‘Your Covid Recovery’ – an online rehab service to provide personalised support to patients. Over 100,000 people have used the online hub since it launched in July, which gives people general information and advice on living with Long Covid. Phase 2 of the digital platform will see people able to access a tailored rehabilitation plan. This service will be available to anyone suffering symptoms that are likely due to COVID-19, regardless of location or whether they have spent time in hospital. 
  3. Designated Long Covid clinics, as announced today. This will involve each part of the country designating expert one-stop services in line with an agreed national specification. Post-covid services will provide joined up care for physical and mental health, with patients having access to a physical assessment, a cognitive assessment and a psychological assessment. Patients could also then be referred from designated clinics into specialist lung disease services, sleep clinics, cardiac services, rehabilitation services, or signposted into IAPT and other mental health services.
  4. NIHR- funded research on Long Covid which is working with 10,000 patients to better understand the condition and refine appropriate treatment.
  5. The NHS’s support will be overseen by a new NHS England Long Covid taskforce which will include Long Covid patients, medical specialists and researchers.

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Source: NHS England, 7 October 2020

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