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Long COVID clinics promised

Thursday October 8th 2020

England is to have a network of long COVID clinics aimed at identifying and providing treatment for the syndrome, it has been announced.

The programme is being backed by the Royal College of GPs, which says practices have seen many patients complaining of persistent symptoms.

As well as those with chronic symptoms linked to hospital treatment for the infection, the clinics will offer care and rehabilitation to people who may never have been diagnosed with COVID infection.

They are expected to be staffed by specialists and GPs.

Their establishment follows the announcement by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence that it will be drawing up guidelines for care of the problem.

So far 100,000 people have signed up to an online rehabilitation service – and further development of the service, Your COVID Recovery, is being undertaken by Leicester University. 900 people are already attending a clinic at University College London Hospitals.

The clinics will offer psychological and cognitive assessments as well as physical assessments.

Professor Chris Brightling, from Leicester University, said: “Following COVID-19 infection, some people have persistent and debilitating symptoms including fatigue and breathlessness known as long COVID. Sufferers need a coordinated approach to their care and rehabilitation so this proposed plan is most welcome.

“Long COVID research studies are essential in understanding the reasons for the variable consequences of the disease to identify those at risk and to test new treatments.”

Professor Tim Spector, from King’s College, London, who is leading another research project, said: “Our data shows us that over one in 10 still have problems a month on and around one in 50 are still suffering after three months. Long COVID sufferers experience a broad range of symptoms, which include up to 20 different problems and not just the three ‘classic’ symptoms used for diagnosis. This tells us that this is a multisystem disease that requires a multi-disciplinary approach to treatment.”

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: “We’re encouraged by NHS England’s announcement of designated clinics to give patients suffering from the long-term effects of COVID the diagnostic facilities, physical and mental health support and rehabilitation they need – something the College has called for.

“This, alongside the forthcoming guidelines announced by NICE and SIGN earlier this week, which the College is looking forward to working with both organisations to develop, should give GPs the confidence deliver the most appropriate care and support to patients suffering with the long-term effects of COVID-19 in the community, and reassure patients that they are receiving care based on the latest evidence.”

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Mental Health | NHS | Respiratory | UK News

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