As the number of people being vaccinated against coronavirus increases and we begin to see a light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, the spectre of long COVID is likely to be the next COVID-related issue to impact on the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) defines post-COVID syndrome (also known as long COVID) as a cluster of signs and symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with COVID-19 and which continue for more than 12 weeks.1 Symptoms may include generalised pain, fatigue, persisting high temperature and psychiatric problems but these may change over time and may affect any system within the body.
Long COVID can affect anyone who has had a coronavirus infection, irrespective of severity such that the impact of the pandemic is likely to be felt long after the acute infection rate has declined, and deaths have become a rarity.
In this article we consider the symptoms of long COVID and how general practice nurses (GPNs) can be alert to the possibility of this diagnosis in people who have had a coronavirus infection. We also discuss the role GPNs can play in supporting people on the road to recovery.
By the end of this article readers should be able to:
Recognise the key symptoms of long COVID
Analyse the effect long COVID may have on individuals and their families
Consider the role that primary care can play in supporting people with long COVID