More than 40 long Covid clinics will open ‘within weeks’ to help thousands of patients who are still experiencing symptoms months after being infected, NHS England has said.
The clinics, which are due to start opening at the end of November, will be staffed by doctors, nurses, therapists and other NHS staff, who will carry out both physical and psychological assessments, it said.
Ten sites have been earmarked for the Midlands, seven in the North East, six in the East of England, South West and South East, five in London and three in the North West, NHS England added.
Patients will be able to access the services through a referral from a GP or other healthcare professional, which will help clinic staff rule out other possible underlying causes for the symptoms, such as suspected stroke, lung cancers or respiratory conditions.
Last month, NHS England announced £10m in funding to set up the clinics.
A new task force involving charities researchers and clinicians has also been established to help manage the NHS’ approach to long Covid and improve the wider understanding of the condition.
Roughly 60,000 people affected
Researchers have estimated that around 60,000 people in the UK are suffering long-lasting symptoms, such as continuing fatigue, brain fog, breathlessness and pain.
Speaking at the coronavirus press conference yesterday (16 November), Matt Hancock, health secretary, said long Covid has had a ‘serious impact on people’s quality of life, even the fit and young’ – showing that ‘this virus can strike us all’.
A King’s College study published last month found that older people, women and those with a greater number of different symptoms in the first week of their illness were more likely to develop long Covid.
‘Could go into the hundreds of thousands’
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, 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.’
He added: ‘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.’