Covid Scotland: ‘I can’t go out on my own’ – Long Covid sufferers plead for more support as 110,000 Scots report symptoms
Some 100,000 Scots say they are still experiencing symptoms of Covid more than four weeks after being diagnosed with the virus, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.
A total of 67,000 say they have experienced Long Covid for at least 12 weeks, and 37,000 say the condition has continued for more than a year.
The most common symptoms reported include tiredness, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating and muscle ache.
Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, which supports people with Long Covid, labelled the estimates “really worrying”, and urged the government to do more to link up services.
“People who were once fit and healthy are telling us they’re struggling to get out of bed, look after their young children or even walk to end of their street,” said chief executive Jane-Claire Judson.
“We need to make sure that people have far better access to Long Covid support in 2022 to stop the trend from worsening.
"There are good services out there to help, but they need to be joined up. For example, the majority of GPs can’t automatically refer into our support service because local data sharing agreements need to be in place.
"We need a national approach or the support of Health Boards and the Scottish Government to get these agreements in place right across the country.”
Mairead Johnson, 58, who lives in Greenock, has been experiencing Long Covid along with her partner since they both contracted the virus in December 2020.
“Things have changed for both of us in the year since we got ill. But they have not got better. As one symptom fades, another appears,” she said.
“I now don’t go out on my own because I worry that my breathlessness will mean I get faint and there won’t be anyone to help me. My husband goes to work, then comes home and goes straight to bed because he’s so exhausted. And all the time we worry that we might get Covid again.
“People join the Long Covid forums, then leave because they think they are cured, but they’re back within weeks because they have relapsed. Every day we ask ourselves – are we going to be like this for the rest of our lives?
“Long Covid is the second crisis from the first crisis of the pandemic. And it’s the one that’s going to last the longest. The NHS will be looking after us for a long time, so we need everything to be joined up.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said the NHS continues to deliver a range of services to support Long Covid patients, backed by a £10 million support fund.
“NHS Boards are coordinating access to support across primary, community and secondary care services to provide an effective patient journey,” they said.
"Whilst long Covid clinics are one model that NHS Boards may explore, we know no one single approach is likely to fit all areas and circumstances.”
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