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Long Covid: ‘fraction’ of patients getting NHS help in England

Just a “fraction” of people with Long Covid is getting the help they need, with a third of them waiting more than three and a half months to be assessed after a GP referral, rising to almost half in some areas.

More than 60,000 people in England had a first assessment for post-Covid syndrome in an NHS specialist service between July 2021 and August 2022.

But the latest estimates released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that about 277,000 people with Long Covid in England report that the disease has limited their day-to-day activities “a lot”. These are the people that experts would expect to be referred for an assessment; however, the numbers who have been seen are far lower.

Dr Helen Salisbury, a GP and columnist for the BMJ, said: “A fraction of the people who have got this problem are actually being seen” within the existing services.

She said reasons could include patients not realising that the help is available to them; GPs not recognising Long Covid in those who do not self-label as having the condition; and a lack of knowledge of, and local access to, specialised clinics.

While Salisbury conceded that there was no current cure for long Covid, she added that patients require treatment that involves symptom management, psychology and knowing they are not alone in their diagnosis.

Ondine Sherwood, a co-founder of the advocacy charity Long Covid SOS, said many people with long Covid “are struggling to get any healthcare. Many are not getting any treatment at all.”

She said public misconceptions around long Covid made it harder for sufferers to ask for and get help. “There was a lack of preparedness for the potential long-term morbidity which was not conveyed to healthcare professionals and this has contributed to the lack of care for long Covid.”

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Source: The Guardian, 27 October 2022


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