Charity calls for ‘urgent action’ to help record number of Scots with long Covid

Campaigners have demanded “urgent action” to help long Covid sufferers, as the number of Scots who have had symptoms of the virus for a year or more rose to 59,000.

Dr Amy Small said thousands of people were in desperate need of help
Dr Amy Small said thousands of people were in desperate need of help

The charity Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland said the record numbers affected show “more urgency” is needed.

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show an estimated 1.7 million people across the UK still had Covid symptoms more than four weeks after they first suspected coronavirus.

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This included 132,000 people in Scotland.

Dr Amy Small, a GP who has been living with long Covid since April 2020, said the record numbers affected by the condition include “real people like me whose lives have been completely turned upside down by long Covid”.

She said: “Every week at work, I’m seeing new cases of long Covid. This isn’t going away, thousands of people are in desperate need of help.

“People in Scotland are still having to push to get the care and support they need and that’s not right.”

She said the support provided by charities such as Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland needs to be “joined-up with NHS” care, “making it easier for GPs to refer patients on to the right care”.

Her message was echoed by Allan Cowie, the director of service delivery at Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, who said: “The Scottish Government needs to approach long Covid with more urgency.

“How many more records need to be broken before we see urgent action?

“We know that good work is being done in different parts of the country to support people with the condition. But we’re not seeing the speed and urgency to join things up and make sure everyone is getting the help they desperately need now.

“We can’t keep delaying – more needs to be done.

“We need to make sure there is a wraparound service in place where people can easily be referred through to third sector services like ours from the NHS.

“By having this in place we can make sure patients aren’t falling through the cracks.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Services and support are already being provided for those with long Covid and we are doing more to ensure that care is resourced and delivered across Scotland to support people in the most appropriate way.

“A long Covid strategic network has been established and brings together clinical experts, NHS boards, third sector organisations including Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and those with lived experience to guide how we plan and design care and ensure our £10 million Long Covid Support Fund is targeted at the areas where additional support can make the biggest difference.

“We expect the first payments to be made in the coming weeks, to enable NHS boards to continue to develop and deliver the best models of care appropriate for their local population’s needs.

“We continue to work closely with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland to deliver a long Covid support service and raise awareness of this resource so it can be easily accessed by those who wish to do so.”

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland has a long Covid advice line which can be contacted on 0808 801 0899 or by emailing [email protected]