Clinicians from across the health service have been appointed to new national clinical roles to help lead action on post-COVID challenges facing patients and staff.
The five new clinical leads – covering urgent and emergency care, elective care and long COVID – will provide expert advice to the NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis, and to the programme teams working to support local NHS teams improve services for patients in these areas.
The NHS’s first ever national specialty adviser roles for long COVID have also been created to help the NHS meet new demand for ongoing care from people suffering long-term effects from the virus.
Dr Melissa Heightman is a Respiratory Physician and Clinical Lead for the Post-COVID Clinic at University College London Hospitals, and Consultant Lead for the Post-COVID Network in North Central London. Melissa has advised NHS England, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the National Institute for Health Research-funded STIMULATE-ICP researchprogramme on care and treatment for patients experiencing long COVID.
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She is joined in the role by Dr Graham Burns, Consultant Physician and Lecturer at Royal Victoria Infirmary and Newcastle University, and President of the British Thoracic Society. During the pandemic he set up both a respiratory support unit and a post-COVID assessment clinic, both of which became models replicated by other hospitals and in national NHS guidance.
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‘The fact that the NHS was able to respond so well to the greatest public health emergency in its history is in large part because of our ability to draw on an unrivalled wealth of clinical experience, expertise and enterprise – right the way from ward to board levels,’ said NHS Medical Director, Professor Stephen Powis.
‘So, as the NHS works hard to tackle the COVID backlog for non-urgent care, safely treat all those needing urgent and emergency care, and address the new challenge of long COVID, I am delighted to welcome five senior clinicians to help lead this vital work.’