Last reviewed 2 August 2022
NHS England (NHSE) has announced an action plan to support patients with Long Covid symptoms and reduce related GP workload.
Backed by £90 million investment, the plan sets out an ambition for all patients with long-lasting symptoms from Covid-19 to have access to more convenient tests and checks closer to home. It will ensure that patients have an initial assessment within six weeks to secure a rapid diagnosis and treatment.
The intention of the new plan is to help limit the number of times people need to return to their GP practice for different tests. It will allow GPs as well as specialist Long Covid clinics to refer patients for tests and checks at “one-stop-shop” diagnostic hubs and mobile clinics.
The one-stop-shops offer a range of checks, scans and diagnostic tests. There is already a community outreach mobile van in Mid and South Essex that sees patients with suspected Long Covid symptoms at booked appointments and walk-ins before referring them for further assessments, where needed. It offers a range of checks including blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, spirometry and other tests for breathlessness as well as electrocardiography.
NHSE has committed to setting up 90 specialist Long Covid clinics across England, intended for patients with more severe symptoms. NHSE said these Long Covid centres offer “a comprehensive multidisciplinary service” with “physical, cognitive and psychological assessments and management” and the ability to refer patients for “further rehabilitation, treatment and other support”.
It stressed that, if patients remain concerned or are not recovering as expected after accessing online services, they should contact their GP team.
The Government is also setting up 14 hubs for children and young people and investing in training and guidance to assist GP teams managing the condition in patients.
Long Covid: Advice and Resources for Healthcare Professionals in Primary Care was published by NHSE on 28 July and provides healthcare professionals in primary care with key information and advice to support patients who are living with Long Covid, along with resources to support communications with communities.
NICE published final guideline on Long Covid in November last year which said GPs should consider referring patients with long-term symptoms of Covid-19 to specialist clinics as soon as four weeks after acute infection, after ruling out other diagnoses.