Thousands of patients suffering with the long term symptoms of coronavirus can now access specialist help at more than 60 sites, NHS England has announced.
The assessment centres will take referrals from GPs for people experiencing brain fog, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms. The new centres bring together doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to offer both physical and psychological assessments and refer patients to the right treatment and rehabilitation services.
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‘The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering ongoing health issues as a result of coronavirus,’ said Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive.
‘Bringing expert clinicians together in these clinics will deliver an integrated approach to support patients access vital rehabilitation, as well as helping develop a greater understanding of long covid and its debilitating symptoms.’
Research has shown one in five people with coronavirus develop longer term symptoms. Around 186,000 people suffer problems for up to 12 weeks, the Office for National Statistics found. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today also issued official guidance on best practice for recognising, investigating and rehabilitating patients with long COVID.
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‘In the first wave of the pandemic many people did not recover as quickly as they’d expected. We had no idea what long covid was – the world had never seen COVID-19 before. We set up the clinic in Newcastle to support patients, but it has also been invaluable in helping us understand what long covid is,’ said Dr Graham Burns, clinical lead at the long covid centre at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
‘I’m delighted that patients now have places to turn to across the country turn and on a national scale doctors will be able to learn from our collective experience and offer tailored support to patients.’