The new Health Secretary, Sajid Javid is being urged to consider the impact of long Covid ahead of lifting restrictions on 19 July. This comes after warnings that the current surge could leave the NHS facing an additional 4,000 cases of long Covid a day, Rehabilitation services could be overwhelmed too.
A “huge impact” on the NHS
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus held an evidence session yesterday with leading experts on the risks posed by long Covid to healthcare staff and patients. Dr David Strain, who heads up the British Medical Association’s work on long Covid, said that of the 22,000 people diagnosed with coronavirus yesterday, around 4,000 will have symptoms of long Covid in three months’ time. This will have a “huge impact” on the health service. He urged the new Health Secretary to consider long Covid as one of the “key parameters” ahead of lifting lockdown restrictions.
Dr David Strain also warned that the NHS is facing growing waiting lists of long Covid patients, particularly in regions hardest hit by the second wave of the pandemic. He said that in the Midlands around 3,500 people with long Covid are currently on a waiting list, and that in all regions “waiting lists appear to be getting longer”.
Meanwhile, Lauren Walker of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists warned MPs that the rehabilitation services providing support to long Covid patients are already “stretched and under-resourced”. She warned that any increase in case numbers will “stretch services and increase waiting lists even further” and that staff risk being “overwhelmed by demand”. She then urged Sajid Javid to make rehabilitation services a “high priority” in future spending decisions to ensure everyone affected by long Covid has “equitable access to rehabilitation and treatment”.
A postcard lottery
The APPG described a postcode lottery of care for long Covid patients, with some waiting over 100 days for treatment and several of the long Covid clinics were still not up and running several months after having been promised by the government.
Stark warnings to Sajid Javid
Caroline Lucas MP, Vice-Chair of the APPG on Coronavirus, said:
“Sajid Javid must listen to these stark warnings about the devastating impact of long Covid on patients and our health service.”
“The NHS is already facing a surge of long Covid cases as waiting lists for treatment continue to grow. Yet despite this growing demand, the government has still not put in place adequate support services for those suffering from this cruel condition.”