Thousands of patients across the UK suffering with the long-term symptoms of coronavirus will now be able to access specialist help at more than 60 sites across the country, NHS England has announced.
The assessment centres are taking referrals from GPs for people experiencing a range of symptoms, including brain fog, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.
NHS England has provided £10m of funding for the network of clinics, which began opening last month.
There are now 69 clinics operating around the country – with a full list of sites accessible at the bottom of this article – helping hundreds of patients.
New research has shown one in five people who suffer from Covid-19 develop longer term symptoms. Around 186,000 people suffer problems for up to 12 weeks after the virus, according to research conducted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
These new Long Covid clinics will bring together doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to offer both physical and psychological assessments and refer patients to the right treatment and rehabilitation services.
Ten sites are now operational in London, seven in the East of England, eight in the Midlands, South East and South West respectively, nine in the North West and a further 18 across the North East and Yorkshire.
A further 12 sites are earmarked to launch in January in the East Midlands, Lancashire, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight.
NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering ongoing health issues as a result of coronavirus.
“Bringing expert clinicians together in these clinics will deliver an integrated approach to support patients access vital rehabilitation, as well as helping develop a greater understanding of Long Covid and its debilitating symptoms.”
Dr Graham Burns, Clinical Lead at the Long Covid centre at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, added: “In the first wave of the pandemic many people did not recover as quickly as they’d expected.
“We had no idea what Long Covid was – the world had never seen Covid-19 before.
“We set up the clinic in Newcastle to support patients, but it has also been invaluable in helping us understand what Long Covid is.
“I’m delighted that patients now have places to turn to across the country turn and on a national scale doctors will be able to learn from our collective experience and offer tailored support to patients.”
To further support this, new guidance has also been issued by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) on best practice for recognising, investigating and rehabilitating patients with Long Covid.
A Long Covid taskforce, with patients, charities, researchers and clinicians involved, has been launched by the health service to help lead the NHS response to Long Covid, produce information and support materials for patients and healthcare professionals, and develop a wider understanding of the condition.
The full list of 69 active Long Covid clinics currently supporting patients can be found below: