The NHS will launch a network of more than 40 ‘long COVID’ specialist clinics within weeks to help patients who are suffering debilitating effects of the coronavirus.
The clinics are due to start opening at the end of November, and will bring together a variety of clinicians, including doctors, nurses and therapists, to conduct physical and psychological assessments of those patients suffering from the long-term effects of COVID-19.
The long-term effects of COVID-19 include fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog, and are thought to effect more than 60,000 people in the UK.
NHS England has provided £10 million to fund the pioneering clinics, to support patients who have been hospitalised, officially diagnosed after a test, or reasonably believe they had COVID-19.
Patients will be able to access services through a referral from their GP or other healthcare professional, allowing doctors an opportunity to rule out any other possible underlying causes for symptoms, such as suspected stroke, lung cancers or respiratory conditions.
The NHS has also launched a new taskforce, with patients, charities, researchers and clinicians, to help manage the NHS approach to ‘long COVID’ and produce information and support materials for patients and healthcare professionals to develop a wider understanding of the condition.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said:
“Long COVID is already having a very serious impact on many people’s lives and could well go on to affect hundreds of thousands.
“That is why, while treating rising numbers of patients who are sick with the virus and many more who do not have it, the NHS is taking action to address those suffering ongoing health issues.
“These pioneering ‘long COVID’ clinics will help address the very real problems being faced by patients today while the taskforce will help the NHS develop a greater understanding of the lasting effects of coronavirus.”
For more information, please read the press release.