40 NHS long-COVID clinics to open across England 'within weeks'

More than 40 'long-COVID' specialist clinics, staffed by GPs and other healthcare professionals, are set to open 'within weeks', NHS England has said.

(Photo: Tara Moore/Getty Images)
(Photo: Tara Moore/Getty Images)

The clinics are expected to start opening from the end of November and patients will have to be referred by GPs and other healthcare professionals.

NHS England has previously said that the clinics would bring together support from 'respiratory consultants, physiotherapists, other specialists and GPs' to help assess, diagnose and treat thousands of patients who need support with long COVID.

They will offer physical, cognitive and psychological assessment and could refer patients on to other NHS services such as specialist lung disease services, sleep clinics, cardiac services, rehabilitation services, IAPT and other mental health services.

Long COVID symptoms

As many as one in 10 patients who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 are estimated to experience symptoms for weeks after the initial illness - with symptoms including breathlessness, chronic fatigue, 'brain fog' and pain.

Patients who 'have been hospitalised, officially diagnosed after a test or reasonably believe they had COVID-19', will be eligible to be referred to the clinics, NHS England said.

Of the 40 clinics, 10 will be in the Midlands, seven in the north east, six in each of the east of England, south west and south east, five in London and three in the north west. NHS England will be providing £10m in funding to establish the centres.

Further guidance

NHS England also revealed that it has set up a new taskforce involving patients, charities, researchers and clinicians to help manage the NHS's approach to long COVID. The group will be producing information and support material for patients and clinicians to help 'develop a wider understanding of the condition', NHS England said.

NHS England has also commissioned rapid advice from NICE, SIGN and the RCGP on long COVID, which is due to be published by the end of the year.

NHS England 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.'

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