Patients across the UK suffering from persistent or long-term symptoms of Covid-19, often referred to as Long Covid, will benefit from a new network of more than 40 specialist clinics being launched by the NHS in the coming weeks.
Due to begin opening at the end of November, the new specialist clinics will help support patients suffering from a range of debilitating effects of the virus months after being infected, including fatigue, breathlessness, brain fog and pain.
It is thought that more than 60,000 people nationally are affected by Long Covid.
NHS England has outlined £10m to fund the pioneering clinics, which will see patients who have been hospitalised, officially diagnosed after a test or reasonably believe they have Covid-19.
Across the UK, the 40 earmarked sites have been broken down regionally: with ten sites set for the Midlands, seven in the North East, six in the East of England, South West and South East respectively, five in London and three across the North West.
Patients will be able to access services through a GP referral or referral from other healthcare professional, allowing doctors an opportunity to rule out any other potential underlying causes for the symptoms, such as suspected stroke, lung cancers or respiratory conditions.
A new taskforce, made up of patients, charities, researchers and clinicians, was also launched by the NHS to help manage the health service’s approach to Long Covid, producing 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.”