Help to be made available to people living with long-term side effects of coronavirus
Breathlessness, anxiety and chronic fatigue are just some of the long-term coronavirus side effects that people living in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire will now be able to receive help for.
Starting today, care and treatment for long covid will be made available to people living locally who, although recovered from coronavirus, are still living with its debilitating side effects.
Estimates suggests that between four and ten per cent of people who test positive for coronavirus will develop long covid, which means more than 100,000 people across the country could be living with symptoms including brain fog, stress and ongoing pain.
Under plans approved by Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, GPs, hospital consultants and other frontline health and care staff can arrange for patients with symptoms to undergo a dedicated long covid assessment.
At this point, and once other non covid-related conditions have been ruled out, patients will be offered support in the form of self-care, peer-to-peer help groups, virtual clinics or face-to-face appointments with experts from different health and care specialities.
Support may also come from patients being referred into existing local rehabilitation services or signposted to relevant voluntary sector groups.
Dr Ruth Grabham, Medical Director, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, said: “Although coronavirus will only result in a mild illness for most people who test positive, some will ultimately face a much more gruelling road to full recovery, which is why support for long covid is so important.
“It goes without saying that this has been an unprecedented year for the NHS, with staff in all areas of health and care having to adapt to new ways of working, but the fact that new support measures for our patients continue to be introduced is a testament to all involved.
“I hope this new service will make a real difference to so many in our communities, some of whom have had their lives turned upside down by coronavirus, with a proportion going on to suffer from its long-lasting side effects.”
Recent research into long covid has shown the condition is most common in older people, women and those who experienced a high number of different symptoms after becoming infected with coronavirus.
While the new local service is designed to help all people who believe their current health condition is a result of an earlier coronavirus diagnosis, patients are not able to self-refer and will need to access support through a referral from a named healthcare professional.
People showing symptoms for long covid are encouraged to speak to their GP.
More information about other local health and care support services can be found online at www.bswicb.nhs.uk.