SNP failure to address long covid is 'dangerous time wasting', say Labour

The SNP’s failure to address the threat of long Covid is ‘dangerous time-wasting’, Scottish Labour has claimed.

Statistics from the ONS state that around 75,000 Scots are currently living with self-reported long Covid and Scottish Government modelling has suggested that up to 105,000 Scots are predicted to experience Covid symptoms 12 weeks after first infection.

Some people suffering from long Covid symptoms have faced severe difficulty in their day-to-day lives and have been unable to return to work.

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In England, the UK government has committed £34 million for the creation of at least 83 specialist long Covid clinics. Northern Ireland has also set up specialist clinics, and in Wales the Labour government has invested at least £5m in long Covid services and clinical pathways.

On Tuesday, Jackie Baillie asked the First Minister why the Scottish government has not funded long Covid clinics in Scotland. In response, the First Minister refused to state that the Scottish Government has any immediate plans to establish such clinics in Scotland.

Ms Baillie has revealed plans to begin discussions with all parties in the Scottish Parliament on the creation of a Cross Party Group on long Covid.

She said: “As we speak, around 100,000 Scots, including children, could be suffering from long Covid. The damage that this condition can and will do to the health and wellbeing of the people of Scotland and the strength of the economy cannot be overstated. But the people of Scotland are already being left behind when it comes to specialist treatment.

“The SNP’s refusal to act on long Covid is dangerous time-wasting which threatens the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people. That’s why today I am announcing my intention to form a Cross Party Group on long Covid to push the government into action. We can and we must take action on long Covid now – there is no time to lose.”

Speaking on BBC radio yesterday, health secretary Humza Yousaf said a cross party group would be “a very welcome move indeed”.

He said: “The trouble with long covid clinics is that we’re still trying to understand more about long covid. If you take a group of specialists from respiratory to neuro and everything else, if you take all of these resources out of the NHS and put them into long covid clinics, that might take resource away from the NHS.

"There’s nothing stopping health boards at the moment – there’s no law, rule or regulation - from saying ‘we want to set up a long covid clinic’.”

Scottish Government modelling of predicted levels of long Covid estimate that by 22 August there may be between 39,000 and 105,000 people experiencing symptoms 12 weeks after their first suspected Covid-19 infection.

A recent report by professors at Stirling University and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen highlighted a lack of funding in Scotland to help those suffering from long covid. The academics called for an “urgent” investment of cash from the Scottish Government to help those suffering from the debilitating condition.

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