Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA’s GP committee for England, said it was clear that the long term impact of covid-19 on patients and the NHS would be profound. An online survey of doctors conducted by the association between 6 and 12 August received 4,279 responses. Of the 3,729 doctors who answered a question about patients’ symptoms, around a third (1,092) said that they had seen or treated patients with symptoms they believed to be a long term effect of the patient having had covid-19. The symptoms reported included chronic fatigue, muscle weakness, loss of sense of smell, and concentration difficulties.
“With more patients presenting with conditions as the result of infection, it’s essential that sufficient capacity is in place to support and treat them,” Vautrey said. “With the growing backlog of non-covid-19 treatment, the likelihood of a season flu outbreak, and the possibility of a second wave of infections we need to see a more comprehensive long term plan to enable doctors to care for their patients this winter and beyond.”
According to a study by Kinds College, London, around 250,000 people in the UK are known to be experiencing “Long COVID” symptoms, 30 days after contracting the virus. Sufferers are reporting a huge array of problems, including severe fatigue, breathlessness, muscle aches, joint pain, memory loss and concentration problems. Many sufferers are people who were previously fit and healthy.
A major UK research study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19 is being carried out at the University of Leicester and the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.
Dr Rachael Evans, a Consultant Respiratory Physician at University of Leicester, Glenfield Hospital, is among the team of experts trying to understand, in her words, “what’s driving those symptoms, what’s causing them and what can we do about them”.
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