Health Secretary Sajid Javid expressed concern over the increasing number of people suffering from symptoms of Covid for a long time, telling a private meeting of health officials that the problem was “very big” and “getting bigger”.
The meeting was given an update on long-term COVID treatment, with owners of NHS England revealing that 10 per cent of all clinic appointments were being taken by NHS staff in an indication of the potential long-term impact of the coronavirus and that risks are already Can undermine employees who have been laid off. Level.
NHS staff are most likely to be affected by long-term COVID, followed by staff in social care and teachers. As many as 125,000 NHS workers may be affected by persistent symptoms.
Public Health England has faced criticism over its guidance for NHS staff, which suggested wearing only basic surgical masks rather than high-grade masks to protect against airborne spread. Some NHS trusts have ignored the rules, amid concerns that staff are being put at risk.
The meeting also heard that the proportion of patients who were appointed to long COVID clinics was white, with less than a fifth coming from the most disadvantaged communities. This has happened despite the overall level of infection in these areas being the highest.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week showed that more than 1.1 million people were now reporting permanent symptoms from a Covid-19 infection, with 405,000 suffering from its effects for more than a year. .
The ONS found that 211,000 people reported that their ability to perform daily activities was being significantly affected by the condition.
Concerns are growing in Whitehall over the possible long-term impact of Covid as some officials fear the impact on the NHS and the wider economy. Patient groups have reported long delays in seeing, with some doctors criticized for not believing their symptoms.
In a roundtable update in late September, Mr Javid heard details from ONS statisticians on the scale of the problem and the wide spread of cases.
There were also “disgusting” stories of two tall Covid patients who urged the health secretary to do more.
Sources who attended the meeting said the minister highlighted the “new challenge” posed by the situation and that experts are yet to learn about it and understand exactly what it is.
After being told about the latest estimates of people suffering for more than a year, the secretary of state said: “It’s huge. The number is only getting bigger. “
He urged the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS to listen to patients’ experiences on call because “we are the ones who can do something”.
He long described Covid as an “extremely important topic” facing the government and said the new health minister, Maria Caulfield, a former nurse, would lead the response.
Mr Javid told the meeting that there is still a lack of consensus on how long COVID actually was and how to measure it.
He also said that vaccination for school children was an important step to protect some young people as many would not survive being infected at some stage.
Cathy Hassel, director of clinical policy, quality and operations at NHS England, told the meeting that the health service had achieved five of its 10 long COVID goals and now has at least one dedicated clinic in every part of the country.
She said the number of appointments to clinics made by NHS staff was “irregularly high” and that work was underway to ensure that NHS staff were rapidly moved to specialist mental health centres, occupational healthcare and longer COVID clinics. Have access to referrals.
The meeting was informed that about 6,000 referrals were being made every four-week period, with 4,000 specialist evaluations and 5,000 follow-up appointments a month.
The meeting heard that more action is needed to increase referrals as the number of people coming forward for help was far below the level of people reporting problems to the ONS. A new advanced GP service went live this month that could help drive more patients to clinics.
Another concern was the demographics of those using the clinics. The meeting was told that 63 percent of those accessing the service were women, and 81 percent were white. Only 17 percent were from the most deprived areas.
This could mean that ethnic minorities and people from the poorest areas, most affected by the COVID pandemic, are not seeking help from long COVID clinics.
The NHS has invested £125m in setting up clinics and providing better GP care for patients with persistent symptoms.
A spokesman for NHS England said: “The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering from ongoing health issues as a result of the coronavirus – bringing experts together and setting up 90 specialist clinics covering the entire country.” as well as collecting and publishing data on demographics and referral of long-term COVID patients to develop a greater understanding of this new condition.
“Anyone who is concerned about long-lasting symptoms following COVID-19 should continue to contact their GP practice to obtain a referral or to consult the NHS’ Your COVID Recovery for further advice. ‘ to be able to go online on the website.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /