Around a fifth of GPs have either had Covid-19 or suspect they may have contracted the virus, according to a new survey.
The BMA survey of doctors in England and Wales included reponses from 1,292 GPs, with 7% saying they had previously tested positive for Covid-19 and 15% reporting they believed they had the virus in the past, but had not had a test.
Of those 272 GPs who previously had Covid-19 and have recovered 19% said they were less able to exercise, 17% said they had chronic fatigue and 10% reported finding it difficult to concentrate.
Meanwhile, among the 1,243 GPs asked about their experiences in the last two weeks, 56% said they had seen patients with symptoms they believed were a longer-term effect of the patient having Covid.
The most common symptom among patients was chronic fatigue – noted by 89% of the 673 GPs answering the question – followed by reduced ability to exercise (80%) and concentration difficulties (52%). A total of 40% of GPs noticed dizziness in their patients and 31% reported anosmia as a longer-term effect.
Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee for England, said the results showed the long-term impact of Covid-19 on people and the NHS will be ‘profound’.
He said: ‘These statistics suggest that patients are, even once they have recovered from the worst of this virus, still suffering the after-effects for some time.’
He added: ‘With more patients presenting with conditions as the result of infection, it’s essential that sufficient capacity is in place to support and treat them.
‘With the growing backlog of non-Covid treatment, the likelihood of a season flu outbreak, and the possibility of a second wave of infections we need to see a more comprehensive long-term plan to enable doctors to care for their patients this winter and beyond.’