Only 5,000 people a month are being referred to specialist long Covid clinics each month despite more than a million people having the condition – and a third of those are having to wait at least 15 weeks for their first appointment, NHS figures reveal.
Over the last year the NHS has set up dozens of specialist long Covid clinics in England to assess and diagnose people who visit their GPs with symptoms of the condition.
The Office for National Statistics estimates there are 1.2 million people in the UK – about a million of them in England – with long Covid, meaning they have had symptoms for 12 weeks or more. However, only 4,846 to 5,182 patients a month were referred to the clinics from July to September this year, the first period for which figures are available.
Of those patients who are referred, 33% are having to wait at least 15 weeks to be seen for their first assessment – with another 15% waiting for 10 to 14 weeks, the figures show.
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation, said she was extremely concerned by the NHS figures – which tally with anecdotal evidence and her foundation’s own research.
“We’ve heard first-hand from thousands of people whose lives have been turned upside down by long Covid, who have had to quit their jobs and most-loved hobbies as they battle wide-ranging and disabling symptoms like persistent breathlessness,” she said.
“If that wasn’t tough enough, many people are then forced to deal with the debilitating effects of long Covid on their own, because of a lack of support and huge wait times for specialist care,” she added.
“The Government needs to train and recruit more specialist NHS staff, so that people with long Covid can access the specialist care they so desperately need.”
Source: iNews, 20 November 2021