More than 6,000 GP practices sign up to long COVID enhanced service

The vast majority of GP practices in England have signed up to a long COVID enhanced service launched in July, NHS England has said.

(Photo: In Pictures/Corbis/Getty Images)
(Photo: In Pictures/Corbis/Getty Images)

NHS officials said 93% of GP practices in England - suggesting around 6,200 in total - have signed up to the long COVID enhanced service that started from 1 July and runs until the end of March 2022.

The deadline for practices to agree to the package has now been extended to allow further practices to join. Practices now have until 29 October to sign up and will be paid 'for the remainder of the year on a pro rata basis'.

NHS chiefs launched the £30m GP enhanced service for long COVID to boost identification, assessment and management of the condition in primary care.

Long COVID

The high level of sign-up reported by NHS England comes despite concerns from some GPs that the package was substantially underfunded.

South London GP Professor Azeem Majeed, head of the department of primary care and public health at Imperial College London said earlier this year that he had 'yet to work out' what practices could offer for funding that worked out at 50p per patient.

North Staffordshire GP Dr Chandra Kanneganti said the funding should be quadrupled to £2 per patient.

Practices delivering the enhanced service will be required to ensure staff are trained on how to identify, assess and manage long COVID, develop support for self management, understand local clinical pathways and can code patient data correctly.

Prevalence

Findings from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that almost 1m people in the UK were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of 6 June - and other studies have suggested as many as 400 patients per average practice could be affected. Of those reporting long COVID symptoms in the ONS data, two fifths had experienced symptoms for over a year.

The latest primary care bulletin from NHS England said: 'We are delighted that the take up of the enhanced service for long COVID has been high with 93% of practices nationally signing up to it. We would like to ensure that every practice has the opportunity to benefit from the support it provides.'

GPonline reported last month that a group of GPs who had experienced long COVID developed clinical guidance on diagnosing and managing the condition.

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