A campaign group has urged the Scottish Government to take more action in helping people who are living with the long-term effects of coronavirus.
Long Covid sufferers are the focus of a new report from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), which suggests there is an urgent need to better understand the Covid-19 symptom journey and underlying clinical risks after having the virus.
Those living with long Covid can experience breathing problems, anxiety, numbness or fatigue.
One long Covid sufferer, Lesley Macniven, co-founded the Long Covid Action Group Scotland, which is now asking the Scottish Government to bring the NHS and third sector together to provide a national support service.
She said: “There’s not one clear set of symptoms – people start to think they’re getting better and then they have a major setback.
“It’s really hard and as time goes on it’s harder to keep fighting back and be resilient.
“People are concerned they’re never going to get their jobs back or even their lives back again – it’s horrible.”
She added: “It’s really difficult to get out of bed everyday feeling like that.
“We need to move beyond recognition and make sure that support is available.
“We desperately need rehab and support in place to help us rebuild our lives.”
The NIHR report also suggests a lack of consensus on diagnostic criteria for ongoing Covid-19 is harming efforts, with more consensus needed between healthcare services, employers and government agencies.
Individuals will also face psychological and social impacts if the consequences are not managed, it adds, with support in the community to be considered with “hospital one-stop clinics”.
Earlier this month, the NHS in England announced a £10m package to support people with long Covid, including specialist clinics.
Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive at Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: “People’s lives have been turned upside down by Long Covid.
“They are struggling to breathe, walk to their end of their street and some people have felt almost bed bound for months.
“Whether you have spent time in hospital or not, people can need support for months after the initial Covid infection.”
She added: “England have made positive progress but we have a chance to do something even better in Scotland – bringing together health professionals and charities to provide a seamless package of care.
“We need to see a full national support service for long Covid in Scotland.
“People don’t have time to wait. They need help now.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are already taking action to support those experiencing the longer physical and mental health impacts of Covid-19 and recognise that rehabilitation, clinical input and research are all critical to understanding and supporting recovery.
“That is why on October 5 the Chief Scientist Office launched a further call for Scottish-led research into this important issue.
“We have also published a framework for supporting people through recovery and rehabilitation during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, which puts in place clear principles, priorities and objectives to support planning to meet increasing demand and to provide high-quality person-centred rehabilitation in different settings.”