Scots hit harder by effects of Long Covid

Scotland’s largest charity supporting people living with Long Covid, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS), has issued fresh calls to better co-ordinate Long Covid care as figures show Scots are more likely to be hit harder by the condition than the UK average.

By
Mark Dowie
Monday, 17th January 2022, 7:00am
Scots hit harder by effects of Long Covid

The latest Office of National Statistics estimated figures on self-reported Long Covid released last week are a stark reminder that thousands of people’s lives in Scotland are being devastated by Long Covid, many of them for over 12 months.

This month Scotland saw the highest number of people estimated to be living with Long Covid with figures reaching 100,000 – an increase of 1000 on last month

Scotland saw 25% of people with Long Covid stating that their daily lives have been severely affected by the condition, compared to the UK-wide average of 19%

The charity is urging people to seek support through its Long Covid Support Service – which is co-funded by the Scottish Government.

Sufferers and family members can access support, advice and reassurance in dealing with the most common symptoms like breathlessness, fatigue and the impact on mental well-being.

However, it is also urging the Scottish Government to help improve coordination of Long covid services to make sure that people do not fall through the cracks.

A key part of the charity’s Long Covid Action Plan is to ensure that Health Boards and GPs can refer to services like CHSS’s support service automatically. They are appealing for the Cabinet Secretary to help make that happen.

The charity says that that the Scottish Government’s new £10m fund for Health Boards to provide Long Covid services should also help give people clarity about the help they can expect to receive, starting with diagnosis and treatment from the NHS.

Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “It’s really worrying to see estimates that a quarter of people living with Long Covid in Scotland find their lives completely changed by the condition – higher than the UK average.

"People who were once fit and healthy are telling us they’re struggling to get out of bed, look after their young children or even walk to end of their street.

“We need to make sure that people have far better access to Long Covid support in 2022 to stop the trend from worsening.

"There are good services out there to help, but they need to be joined up.

"For example, the majority of GPs can’t automatically refer into our support service because local data sharing agreements need to be in place.

"We need a national approach or the support of Health Boards and the Scottish Government to get these agreements in place right across the country.

“As the number of people living with Long Covid continues to rise in Scotland, we want to make sure people don’t suffer in silence and are urging people to please contact our Long Covid Advice Line on 0808 801 0899.”

The NHS has said that for some people, Coronavirus can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone.

This is sometimes called post-Covid-19 syndrome, as well as Long Covid.

Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.

The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first contract the virus.

People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems.

There are many symptoms that appear after someone has a Covid-19 infection.

Common symptoms include extreme tiredness (fatigue), shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog"), difficulty sleeping (insomnia), heart palpitations, dizziness, pins and needles, joint pain, depression and anxiety, tinnitus and earaches; feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches; loss of appetite; a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste and rashes.

Mairead Johnson, 58, lives in Greenock. She and her husband contracted Covid-19 in December last year.

A year on, both are still suffering from the effects of Long Covid.

Mairead said: “Things have changed for both of us in the year since we got ill.

“But they have not got better. As one symptom fades, another appears.

“I now don’t go out on my own because I worry that my breathlessness will mean I get faint and there won’t be anyone to help me.

"My husband goes to work, then comes home and goes straight to bed because he’s so exhausted.

"And all the time we worry that we might get covid again.

“People join the Long Covid forums, then leave because they think they are cured, but they’re back within weeks because they have relapsed.

"Every day we ask ourselves – are we going to be like this for the rest of our lives?

“Long Covid is the second crisis from the first crisis of the pandemic. And it’s the one that’s going to last the longest.

"The NHS will be looking after us for a long time, so we need everything to be joined up.”

CHSS does have support services available for anyone worried about Long Covid,

If you are living with the condition and looking for advice and information, please contact Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid Advice Line on 0808 801 0899.

You can also text NURSE to 66777 or email adviceline@chss.org.uk.

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