Imperial College Healthcare to join network of Long Covid specialist clinics
Imperial College Healthcare will join a network of Trusts providing more than 40 ‘Long Covid’ specialist clinics across the country – including 11 in London - to help patients suffering debilitating effects of the virus months after being infected.
The clinic at the Trust, due to open at the end of November, will bring together a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff to undertake physical and psychological assessments of those experiencing enduring symptoms and help plan out their treatment.
Long-Covid, which is thought to affect more than 60,000 people in the UK, can cause continuing fatigue, brain fog’, breathlessness and pain.
The Trust has also been working with the English National Opera (ENO) since August to develop a online social prescribing intervention for people recovering from Covid-19. The pilot programme involves singing, breathing and wellbeing exercises and patients will learn techniques to help them focus constructively on their breathing, using music that is designed to calm. It will be rolled out more widely soon.
Dr Sarah Elkin, clinical director for integrated care and a respiratory consultant at the Trust said: “As the country recovers from the effects of Covid-19, it’s important to remember that some patients are still struggling with symptoms that can cause them significant distress, even after they’ve recovered from the initial illness. We now know these patients require significant clinical and community-based support so we’re pleased to be able to offer options and provide the best possible care for them as they recover.”
NHS England has provided £10 million to fund the pioneering clinics, which are for patients both in the community and in hospital who have ongoing long-term symptoms and have been officially diagnosed after a test, or reasonably believe they had Covid-19.
Patients will be able to access the services through a GP referral or referral from other healthcare professional, allowing doctors an opportunity to rule out any other possible underlying causes for symptoms, such as undiagnosed respiratory, cardiological or neurological disease.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “Long Covid is already having a very serious impact on many people’s lives and could well go on to affect hundreds of thousands.
“That is why, while treating rising numbers of patients who are sick with the virus and many more who do not have it, the NHS is taking action to address those suffering ongoing health issues.
“These pioneering ‘Long Covid’ clinics will help address the very real problems being faced by patients today while the taskforce will help the NHS develop a greater understanding of the lasting effects of coronavirus.”
Dr Vinod Diwakar, medical director for NHS London, said: “Many Londoners have had their quality of life seriously impacted by persistent and debilitating symptoms following on from a Covid-19 infection and I am delighted that these new clinics will bring a coordinated approach to their care and rehabilitation.”