In this letter, Jeremy Hunt, Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, welcomes recent announcements regarding future support for Long COVID patients but raises a number of continuing concerns. Hunt makes several calls for action, as the number of people suffering continues to increase.
Within the letter Jeremy Hunt calls for:
- Recognition that many Long COVID patients were not hospitalised.
- Guidance on treatment, management of symptoms and on rehabilitation support to 111 and 119 advisers, GPs and all clinical staff in frontline services and is essential for the delivery of quality care, and to end the dismissive attitudes reported by far too many people with Long COVID when they attempt to access health services.
- A multi-disciplinary Long Covid taskforce, including researchers, professional bodies, and representatives of peer-led groups, to address the urgent needs of people living with persistent, ongoing symptoms of COVID-19.
- An update on plans for further research into the symptoms of Long COVID patients.
- Research to include: the natural history of COVID-19, risk factors and potential causes of Long COVID, exercise and Long COVID, diagnostic reliability, viraemia and ongoing or intermittent infectivity, impact of SARS-CoV-2 on different organs and therapeutic options for people with Long COVID
- Information about the timeline for commissioning these clinics and the time it will take to scale up and reach everyone who requires this service.
- NHS Long COVID clinics to be inclusive of quality mental health services.
- Clarity regarding how Long COVID patients will be involved in the development of health promotion and public health programmes, to help tackle the stigma and discrimination that many (people with Long COVID), experience, and address the complexity and uncertainty of current public health information.
- Greater Awareness-raising around the risk to young people of acquiring Long COVID.
- (In regard to healthcare workers) – protection of full pay, and guidance to line managers on how to handle absences and phased returns, support and advice for handling relapses and to flex to respond to the lived experience of those with this complex and evolving condition.