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NHS Somerset introduced an innovative, patient centred Covid Recovery Service last December, designed to support patients across the county suffering from the effects of Long COVID.  The new service is part of a 10-million-pound initiative by NHS England who are funding 69 clinics across the country.

There is growing evidence, that shows a number of people suffering from COVID-19, will go on to struggle with the effects of Long COVID, (a term used to describe those people who continue to experience symptoms such as breathlessness, chronic fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and stress) three months or more after having initially falling ill.

Long Covid symptoms

In Somerset, this could potentially equate to around 1500 people.  We are still in the early stages of trying to understand demand for this service, both nationally and locally, considering how we can best support patients experiencing ongoing symptoms because of COVID-19

The symptoms of long COVID are wide-ranging and fluctuating. However, many patients recover with support, rest, symptomatic treatment, and with a gradual increase in physical activity. 

While we have learned lots about Covid-19, we still need to learn more about its long-term effects, which we know can be debilitating, even for young, fit people, or those who did not go to hospital.

The Somerset Covid Recovery Service will not only give us an opportunity to support patients with symptoms associated with Long COVID,  but will also help us learn out more about Long COVID and find new ways to help people affected by it.

Currently the Somerset COVID Recovery Service is only available through GP referral. It is important that anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 for more than 12 weeks speak to their GP about their COVID recovery, who will, as part of this conversation be able to review a patient’s clinical needs. The multi-disciplinary Covid Recovery Service for patients with Long Covid symptoms, runs in our primary care service, as a virtual clinic. Patients can be referred into the service via their local GP.

It will work alongside other health teams to develop a support plan that will help improve patient’s health outcomes and quality of life.

Rachael Rowe, Head of Long Term Conditions at NHS Somerset says “We know it is vital that people with Long COVID get the support they need. Our Covid Recovery Service enables us to draw on specialist services across Somerset such as mental health and physio support, in a co-ordinated manner to address a patients individual needs, ensuring they can benefit from a wide range of specialist advice and support.”

Advice and support

Although there is no single treatment that cures symptoms associated with Long Covid,  there is lots of advice on the Covid Recovery app for self-care that patients can take to help with their recovery ‘Your COVID Recovery | Supporting your recovery after COVID-19”.