A report is enclosed on Long COVID from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Foundation Trust, and partners. KCH have also provided a report.
The chair drew member’s attention to a papers from Guys and St Thomas’ Trust (GSTT) in the agenda pack, and a paper from King College Hospital, to note.
The following people presented from GSTT:
• Paran Govender (Director of Operations and Partnerships)
• Jacky Jones (Deputy Chief Therapist)
• Andrea Carney (Head of Patient and Public Engagement)
Following the presentation the chair invited questions and the following points were made:
· It is unclear at the moment if the virus stays in the system, there is not enough information yet.
· Members asked if the higher morbidity and mortality amongst certain ethnicities is mirrored in the Long Covid cohort. GSTT staff responded that there are some trends to ethnicity and age, but again not sufficient robust data to draw conclusions. GSTT are linking with Public Health here on epidemiology. Presently it is mostly white people coming through to services. GSTT is conducting a lot of outreach, as had been described, as there are concerns that there is a long standing reluctance and lack of confidence in some ethnicities to access services.
· Members offered to assist with linking GSTT to local communities and putting people in touch - including constituents who want support. GSTT said that they would welcome this offer.
· GSTT staff were asked to outline the symptoms of Long Covid and the clinicians said that fatigue and tiredness is a key symptom – with people reporting really low energy. The top three symptoms are fatigue, breathlessness and brain fog, but there are 250 symptoms identified with Long Covid. People seeking help are emphasising that they want to be believed and have some support.
· Long Covid is receiving investment because this is a long term condition that people will want support over time. This is similar to other long term conditions that the NHS support people with.
· Commission members said that their constituents are telling them that they are not receiving adequate care for Long Covid, or referrals to secondary care and instead are being told to go on holiday, etc. GSTT acknowledged these concerns that said there is outreach to GPs to improve take up of secondary services and diagnostic care. Members asked if people can self-refer and GSTT said that given the primacy of GPs as a frontline service they do want referrals to come from GPs, however this issue is being considered more and GSTT are considering the potential for self-referral. Presently GSTT think that going via GPs is right as the NHS want people to be referred to the right place – and this can mean a referral to a cardiologist or neurologist. GSTT went on to emphasise that a holistic approach and links between mind and body and affirming the experience of patients is a key aspect of their approach.
· Commission members referred to a recent report on the BBC that COVID 19 infection can lead to brain shrinkage and lung damage. The GSTT clinician said there is an iterative approach to respond to emerging symptoms and science.