Cough up! Long Covid sufferers ‘need’ proper support and are set for ‘years’ of pain

Nick Knowles reveals he kept his long covid 'a secret'

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Karen Bradbury, from community healthcare provider Connect Health, said the country will be dealing with a “cohort” of sufferers for years. She is among medical professionals calling on the Government to offer those affected tailored care plans to suit individual needs.

Long Covid is defined as someone who contracts the virus and continuously experiences symptoms for 12 weeks or longer.

It is estimated to affect around 11 percent of people who catch coronavirus.

A recent study revealed 45.2 percent of sufferers require a reduced work schedule compared to pre-illness.

And around a fifth have to stop work completely due to ongoing ill health.

With this in mind, Ms Bradbury suggests reforming sick pay rules could be necessary – highlighting that typical “phased returns” to work after illness are often not sufficient.

She added: “It’s not a case of three days or three weeks, it’s more like three months.”

Sufferers “want to have the tools to manage” and giving them that “help at an early stage” is key to promoting recovery, she explained.

“If you get in early, relatively simple things can make difference,” she added.

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“Service provision for Long Covid is still very patchy. It needs to be well-resourced and supported.

“The second problem is that it can take a long time to get through that hospital system.

“Most of them come out with a whole load of negative tests which take a long period of time to complete.

“By this point, months have passed and now they are going to be much harder to help.”

Ms Bradbury said that setting up clinics across the country – like those existing to support chronic pain sufferers – could alleviate the effects of Long Covid.

Graeme Wilkes is Connect Health’s chief medical officer and said many sufferers aren’t believed.

He told Express.co.uk: “The challenge with Long Covid is that people can’t picture it.

“They can’t understand that phased return (to work is necessary).

“If they had a plaster cast on people can see. The facets of Long Covid aren’t always visible and are hard to get across.”

He explained that “not being believed” and “not having their experience validated is having a negative effect” on sufferers.

“I think the problem with Covid is we are all being affected by it,” he added.

“People think ‘I had Covid – just get on with it’. But there are degrees of this.

“There’s a spectrum and I’d be shocked if anyone hasn’t been affected.”

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