NHS to launch 43 'long Covid' mini-hospitals to treat up to 500,000 long-term sufferers

THE NHS is set to launch 43 "long Covid" mini-hospitals to treat up to half a million long-term sufferers.

The centres will offer care to some 500,000 people still suffering with fatigue, brain fog and breathlessness months after contracting coronavirus.

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Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the health service needed to mobilise to help long Covid patients in the same way that it dealt with coronavirus infections in March.

He 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."

A recent study by King's College London found that people still suffered from muscle pain, loss of taste and smell, and excessive tiredness for 12 weeks or more after catching the virus.

Despite not having exact figures, MPs have been told that up to 500,000 people in Britain are living with the long-term effects of Covid.

NHS England has now provided £10million to fund the 43 specialist long Covid centres, in order to aid those still suffering the consequences of the virus.

Some will take the form of mini-hospitals, set up inside larger hospitals, while others will be based in NHS sites and clinics at GP surgeries.

Of the 43 centres, 13 are already open – with ten coming to the Midlands, seven in the northwest of England and six in the east.

London will have five long Covid centres, the southwest and southeast will both have six, and the northwest will have three.

Meanwhile, long Covid has been officially recognised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, the body which decides the treatments and drugs NHS patients can use.

Jeanne Jarvis-Gibson, 27, used to lift weights and ran almost every day before her Covid symptoms began in March.

But now she can barely work out because of the long term effect coronavirus had on her body.

Persistent health problems following acute disease

Health issues following disease include:

  • respiratory symptoms
  • conditions such as chronic cough, shortness of breath
  • lung problems including inflammation and scarring
  • heart issues including chest tightness
  • heart failure and scarring
  • protracted loss or change of smell and taste
  • mental health problems including depression
  • anxiety and cognitive difficulties
  • inflammatory disorders such as muscle pain
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • continuing headaches
  • fatigue
  • weakness and sleeplessness
  • liver and kidney dysfunction
  • clotting disorders and thrombosis
  • problems with the lymph nodes
  • skin rashes

 

She said: "There were days I was scared to go to sleep because I was scared of not breathing.

"I am very tired of being tired… I want to be able to explore and do fun activities without my body hindering and slowing me down.

"This virus does not care who you are in this world, not your age, your wealth, or status.

"I am a 27-year-old fit woman, and it hit me very hard… and these long term symptoms are still scary for me."

Jess Marchbank, 33, is still suffering six months after catching the virus – and she's unable to play with her children.

She said: "I have chronic fatigue now, so if I do something simple like opening the blinds in the morning I have to sit down after doing that.

"I can't play with the kids properly, I can't work, I can't do anything without getting breathless.

 "I was fit and healthy before, this is from the Covid. I was in the gym three times a week and could lift 90kg dead weights, but now I can't even lift my two-year-old.

"It's like being in limbo of life and death, because I can't live. When I do try and do anything I get so many uncomfortable and painful things happen."

Today, 168 people died from coronavirus as the country battles the second wave of the bug.

A further 24,962 have been infected bringing the total number of cases to 1,369,318.

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