NHS long Covid strategy to include one-stop shops and mobile clinics
The long Covid general practice workload will be reduced by the introduction of local one-stop shops and mobile clinics, intended to prevent people from returning to their GP for several different tests, NHS England has announced.
The organisation’s lengthy Covid action plan, released yesterday, said patients who will have long-lasting Covid symptoms will now have greater access to convenient testing and check-ups closer to home.
The £90million-backed strategy hopes to give all patients an initial assessment within six weeks to ensure they are treated quickly.
It comes as a growing number of patients suffer from lengthy Covid symptoms. A study published yesterday indicates that, worldwide, some 5% of people who have recovered from Covid may experience long-term changes to their sense of taste or smellfor example.
The ONS currently estimates that there are 1.6million people in England who have Covid symptoms that last longer than four weeks, with 20% of those people saying the symptoms have a significant impact on their daily life.
This week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a think tank, predicted that worker absences due to the long Covid could cost the economy £1.5billion a year in lost income. While previous studies had shown that middle-aged women were more likely to suffer from long Covid, the IFS study also confirmed that long Covid was more prevalent among disadvantaged people.
RCN Director for England, Patricia Marquis, said: “Nursing staff know all too well the impact that long Covid can have on patients. While investment in specialist clinics and services will support many, the long Covid postcode lottery must also be addressed.
“Nursing staff have the expertise to manage long-term chronic conditions that long-term COVID patients need. To make this plan a success, Ministers must recognize that this investment must be accompanied by an investment in the workforce needed to implement it.
The updated long Covid strategy promises to establish a network of 90 specialist clinics, 14 centers for children and young people, and to invest in training and guidance to support GP teams in managing the disease.
A community outreach van in central and south Essex is already seeing patients with suspected Covid symptoms long for booked appointments and appointments before referring them for further assessments if needed.
The mobile service offers a range of checks including blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, spirometry and other breathlessness tests as well as electrocardiography.
Dr Kiren Collison, GP and chair of the NHS Long Covid Task Force, said: ‘Long Covid can be devastating for those living with it, and as we continue to learn more about this new condition it is important let people know they are not alone, and that the NHS is there for them.
‘In just under two years, the NHS has invested £224m to support people suffering from the long-term effects of Covid – from setting up specialist clinics, children’s centers and a platform -online recovery form, training teams of general practitioners. Today’s plan builds on this cutting-edge care, to ensure that everyone who needs it is supported and that patients requiring specialist support can access care in a timely and more convenient way. .