Yousaf urged to provide answers on long Covid support funding

Cross-party MSPs claim 52 times as much cash has been spent in England on long Covid than in Scotland.

First Minister Humza Yousaf urged to provide answers on long Covid support funding iStock

Cross-party politicians have joined forces to write to First Minister Humza Yousaf demanding answers for 175,000 people with long Covid.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Dame Jackie Baillie and Scottish Conservative health spokesman Sandesh Gulhane demanded evidence of what actions have been taken to help patients.

The MSPs claimed 52 times as much cash has been spent in England on long Covid than in Scotland, and they warned many people are being forced to turn to private healthcare or risk unlicensed treatments.

In June last year, Yousaf met families of children with long Covid, including some who had paid for private treatment out of desperation for help.

Afterwards, Yousaf, then the health secretary, penned a letter to one family saying he took the issues they had highlighted “very seriously”.

But a mother who attended, Helen Goss, said nothing has changed to support her daughter Anna, who is in a wheelchair.

Mrs Goss said: “When we, and other families, met Humza Yousaf in June 2022, we were encouraged by his words and seemingly determined commitment to help our children by funding long Covid services in Scotland.

“Over a year later and we still have no paediatric support, diagnostics or treatment. We have to spend thousands of pounds that we don’t have on private health and social care.

“If families cannot afford private healthcare, they are isolated and forgotten, often with worsening health. This is not good enough.”

The MSPs behind the letter to Yousaf describe long Covid as “the largest mass disabling event since the end of the First World War”.

Their letter said: “Our research has shown that the Scottish Government has so far either spent or allocated just £6m of its £10m long Covid support fund, in comparison to England’s £314m.

“This lack of funding is having a significant impact on the ability of health boards to provide clinicians with training and updated learning that would allow them to diagnose and treat long Covid.

“Many have been forced to fund their own treatment through private clinics or put themselves at risk with unlicensed medications.

“We are writing to ask how much funding you plan to provide for long Covid services, when you plan to make funds available, and how you plan to allocate to include diagnostics tests, licensed medication and treatments that are only available privately.

“Are you satisfied that the actions you have taken, both during your time as cabinet secretary for health and now as First Minister, to fund and develop effective treatment pathways for long Covid have been satisfactory?”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.

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