Long Covid sufferer hails 'groundbreaking' project to improve care

The £120,000 pilot will see doctors able to refer patients to long Covid services in the Lothians.

NHS Lothian launch £120,000 pilot to help doctors refer long Covid patients to services Email

A long Covid sufferer forced to dip into his wedding savings after being unable to work has welcomed a new project which aims to improve care for those suffering from prolonged coronavirus symptoms.

Greig Brown from Armadale, West Lothian has been unable to return to his job as a joiner at St John’s Hospital in Livingston after contracting Covid-19 twice. 

Once a keen runner and cyclist, the 44-year-old now suffers from severe breathing difficulties and memory loss due to long Covid. 

Plans to wed partner Sam have been put on hold after the couple were forced to use their savings as Greig has been off work long term. 

He said: “This is my reality. I am so breathless and exhausted every day that simply getting downstairs and settled on the couch wipes me out. 

“I used to walk miles every day around the hospital, carrying tools and anything else I needed. Now I can’t even walk to the kitchen without needing to sit down. 

“My GPs kept telling me long Covid is all new to them, too, and they don’t know how to treat it.

“I feel as if people like me have fallen through the cracks.”

Greig Brown was a keen cyclist and runner before developing long Covid (right)Email

Data has shown that by the end of January this year, 119,000 Scots said that they had developed long Covid.

​​Symptoms can include heart palpitations, chest pain or tightness, “brain fog”, extreme tiredness, shortness of breath and insomnia.

The Scottish Government has been criticised for the lack of specialist treatment clinics in Scotland, with the Scottish Conservatives calling for long Covid patients to be able to see a specialist for the condition. 

However it is hoped a “groundbreaking” £120,000 pilot which will see doctors able to refer patients to long Covid services in the Lothians will begin to tackle the issue. 

On Tuesday, NHS Lothian, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) and Pogo Digital Healthcare launched new app My Tailored Talks as part of a pilot in the area.

Around 70 patients and 11 GPs are involved in the £120,000 project, which will allow doctors to refer patients to CHSS long Covid services directly.

Greig said: “I hope having a system in place like this NHS Lothian pilot that lets doctors refer patients directly to the CHSS support service can make a real difference to everyone living with long Covid symptoms.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has welcomed the pilot.STV News

Allan Cowie, interim chief executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said: “For the past two years we’ve been campaigning alongside people living with long Covid to ensure that systems are in place to help them easily access the care and support they desperately need. 

“This system has the potential to transform access to wraparound care through GP services.

“It has been developed with clinicians and people with Long Covid and we want it to be adopted right across the country as soon as possible. 

“It not only makes this process easier for people living with long Covid, but it helps to alleviate some of the pressure that primary care is under by allowing clinicians to easily refer their patients into a service they can trust.” 

Health secretary Humza Yousaf has welcomed the project, adding that the pilot will help “reduce some of the pressure on NHS services”.

He said: “I welcome this collaboration and investment. This kind of digital innovation is just one example of the flexible way in which our NHS boards across Scotland are adapting to meet the needs of people with Long Covid.

“We are spending £3m this year to support NHS boards like NHS Lothian to develop and deliver the best models of care appropriate for their local population’s needs. 

“I look forward to seeing the full results of the pilot exercise and we are committed to working closely with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland share the learning generated from it to support the sustainability of our health services.” 

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