The NHS are launching a set of specialist hubs for children and young people as part of a £100m Long Covid care expansion. The 15 paediatric hubs will have a team of experts able to directly treat young people, provide advice for family doctors or guardians, or refer them to specialist services and clinics. Experts will include clinical teams, including paediatricians, physiotherapists, nurses and occupational therapists. They will look at a range of symptoms related to respiratory problems and fatigue. This investment will also boost online services.
It forms part of an investment package aimed at helping young people and adults with Long Covid, with a major focus being on specialist treatment and rehab facilities. It is estimated that 340,000 people could need support for Long Covid, and 68,000 in need of rehab treatment or other specialist care.
There will also be a £30m investment in GPs to help improve the diagnosis and care for patients with Long Covid. The plans for dealing with the Covid impact will be outlined by Sir Simon Stevens at the annual NHS Confederation conference.
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “The NHS has worked hard to care for 400,000 COVID patients requiring hospital treatment and keep essential services going through successive waves and we now need to step up action to deal with the legacy.
“One of the major health challenges emerging from the pandemic is Long Covid with hundreds of thousands of people predicted to suffer debilitating health issues such as breathing problems and fatigue.
“That is why the NHS is now going to invest £100m in specialist services, including care for children and young people so that parents know advice is on hand through the new hubs to provide patients and their families with the help, support and care that they need.
“This is just the latest example of how NHS staff have pulled out all the stops to provide care for those who need it throughout this terrible pandemic.”
Although most children and young people are not as severely affected by Covid-19, according to data from the Office for National Statistics, 7.4% of children aged 2-11, and 8.2% of 12–16-year-olds reported continued symptoms.
There have already been other initiatives, including a £34m investment in Long Covid clinics. The clinics will be extended to set up the paediatric hubs, using £70m of the new investment. Complicated cases will also be directly treated or referred to specialist services.
Sites of Long Covid Hubs for children and young people:
- The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- South Tees NHS Foundation Trust (James Cook University Hospital)
- Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
- Leeds Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Hull University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
- Alder hey
- Manchester Children’s hospital
- Birmingham and Solihull Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust
- Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland University Hospital Leicester NHS Trust
- Cambridge University Hospitals
- Bristol Children’s hospital
- Oxford University Hospitals
- Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth
- University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust
- London hub led by the Evelina, Imperial, UCLH and GOSH