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NICE set to publish rapid guideline on ‘long Covid’



GPs will get access to dedicated advice for how to treat patients suffering with the long-term effects of Covid-19.

NICE and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) announced today that they will work with RCGP and an independent cross-specialty clinical group to develop a rapid guideline.

Dubbed ‘long Covid’, patients who have survived Covid-19 have reported persistent symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, heart, lung, kidney, neurological and musculoskeletal problems.

It is estimated that 60,000 patients in the UK could now be living with long Covid, regardless of how ill they were with Covid initially and whether they were hospitalised.

The new guideline, which is expected for publication ‘by the end of the year’, will address a formal definition of the illness; how to identify ongoing symptoms; and best-practice treatment options.

NICE director of the Centre for guidelines Paul Chrisp said: ‘There is growing evidence to suggest Covid-19 is a multi-system disease that for many people involves persistent symptoms with longer term impacts on their health.

‘It is important, therefore, that people requiring ongoing support and treatment are identified quickly and are supported by the NHS throughout every stage of their journey. We also want to ensure that clinicians have clear guidance on how best to support patients struggling with this newly emerging disease.’

SIGN programme lead Roberta James said: ‘National guidance in this emerging field will help to align services with the needs of people who may be at risk of receiving inconsistent care. 

‘The guideline will support health and care services with recommendations on monitoring, testing, treatment options and the provision of advice and support for those who are experiencing these long-term effects.’

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.

RCGP chair Professor Martin Marshall said: ‘Treating or managing any new virus or condition is a challenge for healthcare professionals whose priority is always trying to deliver the best possible care for their patients. 

‘The College is delighted to be working with both NICE and SIGN to develop this guideline. It aims to support GPs and other healthcare professionals to ensure all patients with long term effects of Covid-19, including those diagnosed in the community irrespective of whether they received a positive test or not, can be cared for in the best possible way, based on the latest evidence.’

The Government has set up an online portal for patients suffering from the syndrome that has been dubbed ‘long Covid’, however a BBC Radio 4 investigation found just one-in-10 CCGs commissions local rehabilitation services.

The Government has set up an online portal for patients suffering from the syndrome that has been dubbed ‘long Covid’, however a BBC Radio 4 investigation found just one-in-10 CCGs commissions local rehabilitation services.