A new funding package has been announced to help create a coordinated nationwide approach to care for people with Long Covid.
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS) will invest £300,000, with the Scottish Government also contributing £460,000, to boost capacity for the charity’s support services.
Over the coming months, it will also lead to the creation of a coordinated nationwide care pathway between the NHS, GPs and CHSS.
The development comes following the charity’s Long Covid Care Now campaign, which saw people send over a thousand emails to their MSPs urging action to offer better care for people with the condition.
It is estimated that as many as 10% of people who have had Covid are now living with Long Covid in Scotland.
It is a complex condition, with sufferers experiencing a variety of symptoms ranging from breathlessness and chronic fatigue to anxiety and stress.
Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland has set up an Advice Line for people with Long Covid to help people and over the coming months the charity’s services will become a routine part of the NHS referral system.
This means that that GPs and health professionals will automatically be able to refer patients to the service for help.
Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “No one should be left to struggle with Long Covid alone. This joint funding package with the Scottish Government is a vital first step in providing better all-round care for people suffering the debilitating long-term effects of this devastating virus.
“There are a number of steps still to take to get to a fully integrated, nationwide service for Long Covid, but this funding will make sure that people can now get better support.
“Over the coming months we will be working with people living with Long Covid, the NHS and the Scottish Government to make sure that the process of accessing the full range of help and support gets easier.
“Right now, we’re encouraging people affected to call our Long Covid Advice Line on 0808 801 0899 for help. Please do not suffer alone.”
Discussions are continuing with the Scottish Government on other areas where people affected by Long Covid have identified improvements, including the need for better training for health professionals, access to tests and rehabilitation.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We know that many people are suffering from the effects of the virus on both their physical and mental health. We are committed to ensuring they have nationwide and co-ordinated care that meets their needs.
“I’m pleased that working with Chest, Heart and Stroke we are able to benefit from their experience and with the financial support we’ve provided, work to help provide the right care to those affected.
“There is still much to learn and a great deal to be done, but this Government, clinicians, specialist healthcare professionals and important organisations like Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland are working hard to make sure people can access the services currently available and that we make the improvements needed as quickly as possible.
“The Scottish Government recognises and is grateful for the vital work third sector organisations, including Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland, are doing across the country to support people who are living with the longer term effects of Covid-19.”
Living with Long Covid
Sandra Potter, 72, from Bathgate in West Lothian, is one of many Scots who have Long Covid.
She welcomed the new investment, saying: “I am so pleased someone is finally listening to us. I saw a doctor after I first got Covid, and she apologised because she couldn’t do anything for me. She said to me ‘just take it easy and try to recover’.
“Well, I’m trying, but I’m still not feeling any better and I know there are lots of people like me.
“It is a relief to hear that Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and the Scottish Government is taking this seriously. It gives me hope that there might be a recovery for us all.”
Dr Amy Small is a GP has also been living with Long Covid.
She said: “Having someone to help you live day to day with Long Covid is so important. The impact of this virus affects your whole life. I lost the job that I loved because I wasn’t well enough to continue, I lost my health and it really affects you mentally.
“There’s lots that we still need to fix, but it’s great to see that everyone is coming together to build the service that people with Long Covid need and want.”
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