A report published detailing the damaging impact that long Covid is having on sufferers in Scotland was unveiled on Thursday.
Long Covid sufferers were asked to respond to a number of questions regarding their symptoms, the progression of their condition and how it impacted various areas of their life such as financial stability and family life.
The report found that only one person out of 222 who replied had fully recovered, and relapses were common in four out of five experiencing symptoms.
Additional financial pressures also affected 61% of those with long Covid as a result of loss of income due to the virus, reduced hours, and long-term sick leave.
One in five sufferers reported that they had paid privately for tests and investigations due to frustration at lack of access and long wait-times through the NHS, while respondents felt there was a lack of tailored support and felt let down and forgotten by the health care service.
Over 96% stated that living with long Covid had adversely affected their mental health and wellbeing which has been aggravated by poor public understanding of the condition and lack of support from health professionals and employers.
A total of 87% reported that their condition impacted their family and personal relationships. This included feeling like a burden, being unable to contribute to household tasks and parents reporting that they were no longer able to walk their children to school.
Commenting on the report Long Covid Scotland chair Jane Ormerod, said: “Holistic care is required to address the complexity of long Covid. People with long Covid need patient-informed services across Scotland, including long Covid specific clinics and services with clear pathways for treatment and support, including paediatric services.
“Long Covid Scotland hope that the publication of this survey report will further highlight the needs of those with long Covid and reinforce the need for the Scottish Government and NHS Health Boards to work together to address a public health issue that will not go away.”
Scottish Labour said the report must be a “wake up call” for the Scottish Government.
Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “People suffering from Long Covid have been spectacularly failed by this SNP government.
“This report from Long Covid Scotland must be a wake up call for this do-nothing Health Secretary.
“It is imperative that the Scottish Government listen to the recommendations which are being made and act on them.
“People with Long Covid are not just going to go away – they deserve to be supported by this government.
“Humza Yousaf cannot continue to walk by on the other side of the road. The SNP need to sit up and take notice of the people desperately appealing for help.“
The Scottish Liberal Democrats say that the findings of the report are “utterly heartbreaking” and have called for “a firm commitment to country-wide access to long Covid physiotherapy and multidisciplinary rehab”.
The party’s health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “The findings of this report are utterly heartbreaking. They should make the Scottish Government sit up and pay attention; they have been neglecting the sufferers of this debilitating condition for far too long.
“Almost 200,000 Scots are suffering from long Covid, but, as with so much of this government’s nonchalant attitude to health, the SNP seem happy to turn a blind eye.
“My party passed a motion calling for the delivery of comprehensive and accessible care.
“We need to see dedicated clinics across Scotland and a firm commitment to country-wide access to long Covid physiotherapy and multidisciplinary rehab.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “While most people recover quickly from Covid-19, we recognise the impacts that long Covid can have on the physical and mental wellbeing of those affected.
“All Health Boards are already providing support for people with long Covid, and we have made available an initial £3m from our long Covid Support Fund to provide NHS boards and partners with additional resource to deliver the best local models of care for assessment, diagnostic tests, and support for the treatment or management of symptoms.
“We are also funding Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland to deliver a long Covid Support Service, through which people can speak to Advice Line Nurses trained in managing common long Covid symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness. Anyone with long Covid in Scotland can self-refer to the Service by using the Freephone number 0808 801 0899, or texting ‘NURSE’ to 66777.”