Many patients with ‘long Covid’ being cared for in general practice without need for referral, says RCGP
Publication date: 20 November 2021
Responding to reports about long waiting times for specialist post-Covid syndrome treatments, Dr Gail Allsopp, RCGP lead for ‘long Covid’, said the following.
“The prolonged health effects that some patients experience after contracting COVID-19 can have a terrible impact on their lives – and as GPs, we want to do everything we can to help them.
“Post Covid syndrome, or “long Covid” is still a relatively new condition, and GPs are working hard using the latest evidence and clinical guidance to diagnose and deliver the best care. It is important to note that not every patient with prolonged symptoms of Covid requires referral to a specialist service. Many people with post-Covid syndrome are cared for by their primary care team, accessing investigations, treatment and rehabilitation in the community. So, the numbers being referred onward do not give us the full impact of those requiring support from the NHS. However, for those people who are not improving, or have complex needs, in England there are specialist services across the country. The RCGP continues to call for investment into diagnostic and treatment services within the community. This includes better access to diagnostic tools in the community, so that GPs can rule out other serious conditions and ensure patients receive a timely diagnosis of ‘long Covid’. As well as more investment into community rehabilitation services to enable treatment to be given close to patients’ homes.
“The RCGP is supporting GPs and their teams to deliver care to patients suffering with prolonged symptoms of Covid-19, and has recently updated joint clinical guidance with NICE and SIGN. This is in addition to running free monthly educational sessions, to support GPs to keep up to date with any emerging evidence on ‘long Covid’.”
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Notes to editor
The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.