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Joiner who has long-Covid hails ‘breakthrough’ project to improve care

Greig Brown, 44, has not been able to return to work due to long Covid (Quantum Communications/PA)
Greig Brown, 44, has not been able to return to work due to long Covid (Quantum Communications/PA)

A joiner who has been in hospital twice with long-Covid has hailed a new project aiming to improve care for those suffering from prolonged coronavirus symptoms.

Greig Brown, 44, from Armadale, West Lothian, has not been able to return to his job at St John’s Hospital in Livingston due to prolonged symptoms such as breathing difficulties and memory loss.

He had been planning to marry his partner, Sam, but the couple have used up their savings while Greig has been off sick. He said: “This is my reality. I am so breathless and exhausted every day that simply getting downstairs and settled on the couch wipes me out.

Greig Brown, who has long Covid, has hailed a project which will bring all services together (CHSS/PA)

“I used to walk miles every day around the hospital, carrying tools and anything else I needed. Now I can’t even walk to the kitchen without needing to sit down.

“My GPs kept telling me long Covid is all new to them, too, and they don’t know how to treat it.

“I feel as if people like me have fallen through the cracks.”

NHS Lothian, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland and Pogo Digital Healthcare have jointly launched an online app called My Tailored Talks as a pilot in the region. Around 70 patients and 11 GPs are involved and doctors will now be able to refer patients to CHSS long Covid services directly.

The service has been called “groundbreaking” and will bring services together for the first time.

GPs and other healthcare staff will be able to automatically refer patients to long Covid support services and provide information to patients.

Greig added: “I hope having a system in place like this NHS Lothian pilot that lets doctors refer patients directly to the CHSS support service can make a real difference to everyone living with long Covid symptoms.”

The team now wants partners across Scotland to get involved to roll out the project beyond Lothian.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has given his backing to the project and said the Scottish Government has pledged £3 million in funding to support NHS boards provide support to people with long Covid.

He said: “I welcome this collaboration and investment. This kind of digital innovation is just one example of the flexible way in which our NHS boards across Scotland are adapting to meet the needs of people with long Covid.

“We are spending £3m this year to support NHS boards like NHS Lothian to develop and deliver the best models of care appropriate for their local population’s needs.

“I look forward to seeing the full results of the pilot exercise and we are committed to working closely with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland share the learning generated from it to support the sustainability of our health services.”

Allan Cowie, interim chief executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “For the past two years we’ve been campaigning alongside people living with long Covid to ensure that systems are in place to help them easily access the care and support they desperately need.

“This system has the potential to transform access to wraparound care through GP services. It has been developed with clinicians and people with long Covid and we want it to be adopted right across the country as soon as possible.

“It not only makes this process easier for people living with long Covid, but it helps to alleviate some of the pressure that primary care is under by allowing clinicians to easily refer their patients into a service they can trust.”