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GPs to staff ‘long Covid’ specialist clinics backed by £10m


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GPs are set to staff specialist clinics to diagnose and treat patients with ‘long Covid’ across England, backed by £10m of local funding, NHS England has said.

Speaking at the NHS Providers conference today, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens announced the additional local funding to be invested this year into setting up the clinics in ‘every area across England’.

GPs will work alongside respiratory consultants, physiotherapists, other specialists to ‘assess, diagnose and treat’ people suffering from symptoms, such as breathlessness, chronic fatigue, ‘brain fog’, anxiety and stress, NHS England said.

The ‘one-stop’ services will be set up in line with a national specification and provide ‘joined-up care’ for both physical and mental health, it added.

NHS England said patients will have access to:

  • A physical assessment, including diagnostic testing to identify any potential chronic health issues;
  • A cognitive assessment to assess any potential memory, attention and concentration problems;
  • And a psychological assessment to see if someone is potentially suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD or another mental health condition.

GPs working in the clinics will be able to refer patients to specialist services such as sleep clinics or lung disease, cardiac and rehabilitation  services, as well as ‘signposted’ into IAPT and other mental health services, it added.

The new service comes as part of a five-part package of measures announced by Sir Simon Stevens to ‘boost NHS support for “long Covid” patients’.

The measures include new NICE guidance commissioned by NHS England to be published by the end of October on the medical case definition of ‘long Covid’ – including patients who have not previously been admitted to hospital or tested positive for coronavirus.

NICE is then set to publish evidence-based clinical guidelines on how GPs can support ‘long Covid’ patients in November, NHS England said.

GPs will also continue to refer patients to phase two of the online rehabilitation service for patients who have had coronavirus, which first launched in July, and following development this Autumn will provide patients with a tailored rehabilitation plan.

Sir Simon Stevens said: ‘It is now clear that “long Covid” can have a major impact on the lives of a significant minority of patients weeks or months after they have contracted the virus. 

‘So just as the NHS quickly put in place specialist hospital care for acutely ill Covid patients at the start of the pandemic, now we must respond sensitively and effectively to these new patient needs.’

The new service follows the launch of a ‘long Covid’ clinic at University College London Hospital earlier this summer, which has treated over 900 people with symptoms since mid May.

According to NHS England, some estimates suggest 10% of Covid patients may still experience symptoms more than three weeks after infection, while 60,000 could be suffering from symptoms after more than three months.

It comes as the RCGP has urged for GPs to get quick and easy access to community rehabilitation services for patients with long-term Covid-19 symptoms.

READERS' COMMENTS [11]

Patrufini Duffy 7 October, 2020 5:16 pm

But GPs are mocked by this country? Clearly a mistaken professional choice for such a global holistic issue.

Vinci Ho 7 October, 2020 6:06 pm

Interesting
Only now Simon bothered to show himself , what happened after all these times , I wonder ?😈

Dipesh Naik 7 October, 2020 7:36 pm

Just dusting off my postgraduate diploma in Covid19, at the ready! Lol!

Chris GP 7 October, 2020 7:48 pm

Sounds about as useful as a pain clinic

Dave Haddock 7 October, 2020 7:51 pm

A condition as yet unproven to exist, but no doubt useful to some, including the empire builders.

Aarti Amarnani 7 October, 2020 8:23 pm

“The measures include new NICE guidance commissioned by NHS England to be published by the end of October on the medical case definition of ‘long Covid’ – including patients who have not previously been admitted to hospital or tested positive for coronavirus.”

So those patients who had symptoms early on eg Feb/Mar, who couldn’t get tested as only those ill enough to be hospitalised were then tested, and who if they now got an antibody test any antibodies would since have waned/disappeared- how will we know if they ever had Covid or if their ongoing problems are something else entirely?

Nicholas Sharvill 7 October, 2020 8:23 pm

The comments above re pain clinics actually; a useful benchmark unless or until a solution is found as already there are calls to make sure long covid is not confused with cfs/me and important at the outset that any expectations are realistic as did not happen often still does not happen with pain clinics

It also seems to confuse (at least to me) people with clearly scarred fibrosed lungs, cardiac problems etc with those whos’ ‘tests’ dont show hypoxia when sob etc so a screening service to identify specific areas is proably useful. It had been said that ALL THOSE admitted to hospital would get hospital follow up with lung ct etc is that separate from the long covid clinics

Ravin Naik 7 October, 2020 11:05 pm

So I’ve just done a quick calculation 10 million divided by 60 000 works out at a cost of £166 per patient .. that’s to be seen investigated, cognitively and psychologically assesses and onward referred as necessary . I’m getting a little disillusioned with the government valuation of our time and effort .. aren’t you ??

Robert Caudwell 8 October, 2020 7:56 am

It’s a good job we got those extra 6,000 GPs we were promi…..ah

Hello My name is 8 October, 2020 9:01 am

Perhaps those clinicians who have been calling for the government to consider long Covid in their management of the pandemic might give up their Saturday’s to staff these clinics. What about all the missed cancer diagnoses and other pathologies that cannot get an appointment for love nor money. We must not be herded along like sheep to focus on trendy, new condition (much hyped by the media) at the expense of a myriad of missed pathology elsewhere.

Marie Williams 9 October, 2020 2:46 pm

LOL!