GPs call for 'Long Covid' treatment programme as thousands suffer long-lasting symptoms

Fatigue is one of the symptoms sufferers from "long covid" have been experiencing. (Photo: Shutterstock)Fatigue is one of the symptoms sufferers from "long covid" have been experiencing. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Fatigue is one of the symptoms sufferers from "long covid" have been experiencing. (Photo: Shutterstock)

GPs have called for better support to be made available to those suffering with long-term coronavirus symptoms.

Experts have told BBC Radio 4's File on 4 that the NHS needs to provide better support to victims of coronavirus who have remained chronically ill for months after catching the virus.

The Royal College of GPs is calling for "post-Covid" clinics to be set up around the UK in an effort to help these people.

Currently, however, less than 12% of NHS care commissioning groups asked by the BBC said they are running such services.

NHS England said it was "rapidly expanding new and strengthened rehab centres".

A number of people have reported experiencing "long covid", suffering from symptoms for several months.

This includes a huge range of problems like severe fatigue, breathlessness, muscle aches, "brain fog", memory loss, depression and a lack of concentration.

According to data from the Covid Symptom Study app, around 300,000 people in the UK have reported symptoms lasting for more than a month.

Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London and leader of the app told the BBC that data showed around 60,000 people have been ill for over three months.

Many of these people, however, have not actually been tested for coronavirus.

Martin Marshall, GP and chair of the Royal College of GPs, told the BBC: "Without doubt, we know that there's going to be a growing number of people who have significant and worrying symptoms of long Covid.

"A small proportion, but in total a large number, will require specialist advice.

"So we really do need to see a growing number of post-Covid clinics being established."

Your Covid Recovery is NHS England's new website, offering personalised support to patients recovering from coronavirus.

While Lynne Turner Stokes, professor of rehabilitation medicine at King's College London, told the BBC that it "had good resources", she added that "we have to do much more".

She said: "For people who have never been to hospital, nobody's looked properly at their lungs, their hearts and so on.

"It will be very useful if we had more one stop (face to face) services."

NHS England and the UK government have said that there will be strengthened, new rehab centres and community services available across the country.

Scotland is planning to provide "high quality person-centred rehabilitation in different settings", while The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has said they are assessing the needs of covid patients who have left hospital.

In Wales, community and specialist rehabilitation programmes are likely going to be the place where covid care is offered.