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Today the NHS has announced that there are 69 Long COVID clinics now operating across England, with patients able to access these services by referral through a GP or another healthcare professional.
The clinics form part of the NHS’s five-point package to support Long COVID patients, aimed at providing multi-professional advice and support to help ensure people are put onto the right clinical pathway to treat their symptoms. Patient Safety Learning welcomes today’s publication of the location of these new clinics in England, which we initially called for in September.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) and the Royal College of General Practitioners have also published today a new guideline for identification, assessment and management of Long COVID. As a stakeholder in the taskforce advising NHS England and NHS Improvement on support for patients living with Long COVID we fed back the concerns that patients have been sharing with us as part of the consultation process on this guideline.
Patient Safety Learning believes that the NHS needs to put in place a broad plan for engaging and communicating with Long COVID patients. In a recent blog on this we suggested several actions concerning Long COVID clinics where we felt it would be beneficial for the NHS to provide greater clarity on their plans. In addition to publishing a list of the initial set of clinics, we believe the NHS should share a more specific timeframe for the completed roll-out of all the intended clinics.
We also believe that clarity is now needed from the devolved healthcare systems in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales on plans for similar services, to avoid a postcode lottery emerging for Long COVID patients in different parts of the United Kingdom.
Commenting on today’s news, Patient Safety Learning’s Chief Executive Helen Hughes said:
“We welcome today’s update on Long COVID clinics and the publication of new guidance on managing this for healthcare practitioners. We believe it is important that these clinics provide access to the specialist support needed, as patients can present with a variety of symptoms.
We feel that there needs to be significant improvement in how the NHS engages and communicates with people living with Long COVID. This should include information about the roll-out of support in all areas of the UK and an increase in patient resources”.
If you’re accessing services via one of these Long COVID clinics, or if you have specific views about the newly issued guidance, please do let us know your thoughts on our patient safety platform the hub.
 NHS England and NHS Improvement, Long COVID patients to get help at more than 60 clinics, 18 December 2020. https://www.england.nhs.uk/2020/12/long-covid-patients-to-get-help-at-more-than-60-clinics/
 Patient Safety Learning, NHS announces five-point package to support Long Covid patients, 7 October 2020. https://www.patientsafetylearning.org/press-releases/nhs-announces-five-point-package-to-support-long-covid-patients
 Patient Safety Learning, Patient Safety learning calls for the NHS to publish details of post-COVID clinics, 11 September 2020. https://www.patientsafetylearning.org/press-releases/patient-safety-learning-calls-for-the-nhs-to-publish-details-of-post-covid-clinics
 Patient Safety Learning, Clear NHS plan needed to reassure Long COVID patients, 19 November 2020. https://www.patientsafetylearning.org/blog/clear-nhs-plan-needed-to-reassure-long-covid-patients
 BBC News, Coronavirus: Call to help those suffering from long COVID, 18 November 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-54980597, BBC News, Covid in Scotland: No clinics for thousands of ‘long Covid’ patients, 11 November 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-54893317, BBC News, Long Covid: Calls for specialist clinics in Wales, 11 November 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-54888774