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UK's long Covid patients facing postcode lottery for support


Long Covid patients have voiced growing frustration at a “postcode lottery” in clinical support for debilitating symptoms, with some areas of the UK offering no specialist clinics more than a year after coronavirus took hold.

Other sufferers said they were disappointed by long Covid clinics investigating certain symptoms only, with no comprehensive treatment plan.

Official figures suggest there are almost 700,000 Britons with Covid symptoms lasting over three months. In October, NHS England announced more than £10m for a network of clinics bringing together doctors, nurses, therapists and other NHS staff to conduct physical and psychological assessments and recommend treatments for long Covid patients.

Additional local funding would also be available to help establish a clinic in every area, the NHS England chief executive, Simon Stevens, said. By December, 69 clinics had been set up in England with a further 12 sites earmarked to launch in January.

But Louise Barnes, founder of the Post Acute Covid Syndrome 19 (Pacs19) patient advocacy group, said a survey of 200 British members revealed about 90% had not been able to access a clinic because there wasn’t one available, their GP could not refer them or they were declined without explanation. Others were disappointed by the type of services on offer.

Barnes said: “Patients in the UK have waited going on a year to get support for the multitude of symptoms they’ve been experiencing. To finally think you are going to get referred to a clinic but your GP tells you they don’t have any information, or you get there to find it’s a ‘respiratory-only clinic’ or only staffed by physiotherapists leaves them feeling despondent. For the most part, sadly, patients are coming away massively feeling let down and with no viable treatment plan offered – even a rudimentary one, whilst a treatment is found."

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Source: The Guardian, 6 April 2021

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