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Long COVID sufferers to be offered help at two Oxfordshire clinics

PIC: Anthony Devlin / PA Wire

Oxford Health and Oxford University Hospitals are supporting people suffering from long-term symptoms.

Research shows that one in five people develops long-term symptoms which include brain fog, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, and fatigue.

Around 186,000 people have suffered problems for up to 12 weeks, according to the Office for National Statistics.

More than 60 clinics have been opened in England and bring together doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to offer both physical and psychological assessments and refer patients to the right treatment and rehabilitation services.

They are accessed via a GP's referral.

Locally, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust are operating them.

Plans for some 43 clinics were previously announced by NHS England in November, which has provided £10 million for the network.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering ongoing health issues as a result of coronavirus.

“Bringing expert clinicians together in these clinics will deliver an integrated approach to support patients to access vital rehabilitation, as well as helping develop a greater understanding of long Covid and its debilitating symptoms.”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is also due to issue official guidance on best practice for recognising, investigating and rehabilitating patients with long Covid.

The “living” guidelines, developed with the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (Sign) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), will be updated as new evidence relating to long Covid emerges.

They state that people may have “ongoing symptomatic Covid-19” if their symptoms persist from four to 12 weeks and could have “post-Covid-19 syndrome” if symptoms are not resolved after 12 weeks.

The guidelines note there is only “minimal, though evolving” evidence covering long Covid, but set out advice for doctors on how to assess potential sufferers, plan their care and monitor and manage their condition.

One recommendation includes informing patients that it is not known if over-the-counter vitamins or supplements are “helpful, harmful or have no effect in the treatment of new or ongoing symptoms of Covid-19”.

The guidelines include an emphasis on the need to address health inequalities in care for people experiencing ongoing symptoms, be that as a result of language barriers, mental health conditions, a learning disability or cultural differences.

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