Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and its partners Solent NHS Trust and Isle of Wight NHS Foundation Trust have opened a number of clinics across Hampshire and Isle of Wight to help patients suffering from the effects of Long COVID. The new service is part of a 10 million pound initiative by NHS England who are funding 69 clinics across the country.
This vital service has been launched following emerging evidence that reveals a growing number of people who contract COVID-19, cannot shake off effects of the virus months after initially falling ill. The symptoms of long COVID are wide-ranging and fluctuating and can includepain, breathlessness, chronic fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and stress. However, many patients recover with support, rest, symptomatic treatment, and with a gradual increase in physical activity.
Roblin Harlow, Clinical Director for Primary Care Development, Southern Heath NHS Foundation Trust says,
“We are delighted to be working with our NHS colleagues to deliver this service and support those who are experiencing the symptoms of Long COVID. While we have learned lots about Covid-19, we are still yet to learn more about its long-term effects that we know can be debilitating, even for young, fit people, or those who did not go to hospital. These new clinics not only give us an opportunity to support those in need but will also help us learn out more about Long COVID and find new ways to help people affected by it.”
The new service is available by GP referral only and is available to anyone who is still experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 for more than 12 weeks. Appointments will be available virtually and face to face (when safe to do so). Patients referred into the Long COVID service will be asked to fill out a questionnaire and will then undergo a number of physical, cognitive and psychological assessments. Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) will then work alongside other health teams to develop a support plan that will help improve their health outcomes and quality of life. Patients will also be signposted to existing Long COVID support services and will have access to the ‘Living with COVID’ App, offering patients education, support and encouragement.
Dr Hayden Kirk, Clinical Director at Solent NHS Trust, said: “We know it is vital that people with Long COVID get the support they need. Through our partnership working within the NHS, we will be able to draw on existing specialist services across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in a co-ordinated manner to address every persons individual needs to ensure they can benefit from a wide range of specialist advice.”
Research is ongoing, but there are currently an estimated 60,000 people in the UK thought to be experiencing Long COVID from the first phase of the pandemic, although this is likely to be much higher now and will grow as infection rates rise. Evidence shows that 10% of people experience prolonged illness after COVID-19. The new service will be part of a research network to help the NHS learn more about the effects of the pandemic on the population.
There are six Long COVID clinics are now open across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Anyone experiencing the symptoms of Long COVID are advised to visit https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/ for more information and if symptoms persist, to contact their GP or health care professional.