NHS set out plans for faster checks for long Covid

Patients with long-standing Covid-19 symptoms will now have access to more convenient tests and checks closer to home.

The NHS have announced today that specialist clinics, dedicated to long Covid, will now be able to refer people for tests at local one stop shops and mobile clinics, opposed to people going back to their GP practice for multiple different checks.

Backed by an additional £90m of investment, the updated long Covid plan includes ambitions for all patients to have an initial assessment within six weeks, ensuring people are diagnosed and treated quickly.

The plan, which has been developed with expert insight from patients, clinicians, and partners across the health sector, is a clear marker that the NHS has already made significant progress on delivering the 10 commitments laid out for long Covid services just over a year ago.

This includes launching a nationwide network of 90 long Covid clinics, 14 hubs for children and young people, and investment in training to support GPs in managing the condition.

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and chair of the NHS long Covid taskforce, said: “Long Covid can be devastating for those living with it, and while we continue to learn more about this new condition, it’s important people know they’re not alone, and that the NHS is here for them.

“In just under two years, the NHS has invested £224m to support people experiencing long term effects from Covid – from setting up specialist clinics, hubs for children, and an online recovery platform, to providing training for GP teams.

“Today’s plan builds on this world-leading care, to ensure support is there for everyone who needs it, and that patients requiring specialist support can access care in a timely and more convenient way.”

Whilst many people suffering from long Covid symptoms will make a full recovery with support from their local health systems – many have more severe and complex symptoms – and for those people the NHS have set up specialist long Covid clinics up and down England.

The clinics offer a “comprehensive multidisciplinary service”, which includes psychological, cognitive, and physical assessments, whilst also having the ability to refer patients for further treatment.

Health Minister, James Morris, said: “Long Covid can have lasting and debilitating effects on both the physical and mental health of people of all ages. These new measures will ensure individuals with this awful condition can access the support that they need more quickly and closer to home.

“The plan shows the incredible progress the NHS has made to provide further support to patients alongside our world-leading vaccination programme which has delivered over 150 million jabs to protect people from the virus.”

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate that approximately 1.6 million people in England are experiencing ongoing long Covid symptoms, with around one in five people reporting that it has had a significant impact on their daily life.

Anyone with concerns about ongoing symptoms following Covid can access information and guidance on the NHS Your Covid website.

Since its launch, the online platform has been visited by over 10 million people across the globe and is now available in 17 different languages, including Chinese, Hindi, Gujarati, Arabic, Polish, Urdu, and Ukrainian.

More information about all the available Covid services can be found here.

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