The head of the NHS has announced that thousands of patients with long-covid are being offered professional help in rehabilitation clinics across England.
Sir Simon Stevens said £ 10 million would be invested this year in setting up one-stop-shop services for physical and mental health issues caused by coronavirus.
He estimated that "hundreds of thousands" of people could potentially need treatment for the disease, with symptoms such as debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath, "brain fog", anxiety and stress.
Introducing the clinics at the annual NHS Providers conference yesterday, he said the new network was a core element of a five-part package of measures to improve NHS support for these patients.
New NICE guidelines and disease research, an online rehab service, and an NHS task force that will include long-time Covid patients, medical specialists, and researchers have also been promised.
Sir Simon Stevens, chairman of the board of directors of the NHS (center), said £ 10 million would be invested in setting up one-stop-shop services for physical and mental health issues caused by coronavirus
Mr Stevens said: “It is now clear that long Covid weeks or months after contracting the virus can have a huge impact on the lives of a significant minority of patients.
“Just as the NHS quickly set up specialized hospital care for acutely ill Covid patients at the beginning of the pandemic, we now have to respond sensitively and effectively to these new patient needs.
& # 39; The NHS needs to be just as responsive and agile to these new needs, including the long-running COVID, as we were in the first phase in March, April and May on changing critical care, ventilators and acute capacity.
& # 39; And so, today we're actually going to be putting £ 10million into building a network of designated long COVID clinics across the country that will provide support for the tens of thousands – likely to be – under NICE's new guidelines for effective patient care pathways Hundreds of thousands – of patients who have long been eager. & # 39; The announcement comes after a large study by King's College London that found 1 in 10 coronavirus patients had symptoms of long Covid a month after teeing off.
People who contract coronavirus report suffering from debilitating symptoms for weeks and months (Image: A patient at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Falkirk, Scotland, in April).
One in 50 patients was still suffering at least three months later. The four million patient study found that experts warn that this could become a massive public health problem in the years to come.
There have been growing calls for more comprehensive services to support people who have had the virus and continue to experience its ill effects for weeks or months.
Many hospitals run follow-up clinics for those previously admitted with the virus, but experts have said those who are never admitted are falling through the loopholes.
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh, Head of Primary Health Care at Oxford University, whose team presented evidence to the House of Lords select committee that provides primary care physicians with the best options to treat those dealing with symptoms of "long covid," said that there is an urgent need to get better long-term care.
Professor Trisha Greenhalgh
She told The Daily Telegraph, "The evaluations we have done seem to suggest that a tiny minority of people, perhaps one percent of all who get Covid, are still sick six months later and about a third of people are not . " At three weeks, most people whose Covid is dragging on will slowly but steadily improve between three weeks and three months. & # 39;
General practitioners will also be advised by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the Royal College of GPs on how to help people with "long desires" who will publish clinical guidelines.
A recent report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change also urged the government to do more on the matter.
Mr Stevens said there was no doubt that the NHS emerging from the pandemic will "be a different NHS than the one that entered the pandemic".
He warned of a harsh winter after "undoubtedly the most difficult year in the history of the National Health Service".
But he said lessons had been learned from the first wave and the NHS could be proud of its response.
“When we look into winter, we have to be very agile, not just to the coronavirus, but also to winter pressure and to maintain the NHS's broader range of services.
“It was not inevitable that the NHS was not overwhelmed, as we have seen in some other countries in Europe and around the world.
"This time around, we have a better sense of what kind of demands could be placed on healthcare." Another 14,162 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported in the UK yesterday, as well as 70 other deaths.
Sarah MacFadyen from Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation welcomed the support.
“Specialist clinics could be a real lifeline for these people. Clinical guidelines also provide clarity for people's recovery – something that is badly needed, especially those who have been told by their doctors that they are not sure how best to help them.
"Respiratory problems such as shortness of breath can seriously affect people's lives, so everyone has access to support in their recovery so they can enjoy the best possible health and quality of life after Covid."
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