Covid Scotland: MSP calls for long covid clinics

The health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives has again urged for dedicated clinics to be set up for long Covid patients in Scotland.

Long covid has caused ongoing problems for many.
Long covid has caused ongoing problems for many.

Dr Sandesh Gulhane, who had originally called for long Covid specialist clinics in his maiden speech to the Scottish Parliament in 2021, told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme on Saturday that it is important people suffering with the illness can be seen by someone with expertise on the matter.

"People with long Covid don't want to come into hospital. They haven't got the energy to do that," Dr Gulhane said.

"The problem I have right now as a GP, I don't have anywhere to send my long Covid patients to."

When asked if he can offer any treatment to patients who come to him for help, he said: "Unfortunately, the best I can offer is empathy.

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"I can explain to them [about] long Covid, but there isn't a huge amount that we can do right now.

"We need a dedicated space for our patients to go to."

He added: "We need patients to be able to go to a specialist, to be able to go somewhere where they're able to get that help, to get the expertise."

Dr Gulhane suggested that in doing so, patterns in successful treatment could be recognised, rather than having individual patients being sent to various places to seek answers to their illness.

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Last month, the Scottish Government announced a support fund of £3 million would go towards projects driving improvements in care and support for people with long Covid.

The funding will be allocated to the country's health boards to be spent on bolstering support but, at the time, Dr Gulhane criticised the fact the Government was not committing to creating a network of clinics as a solution.

He told BBC Scotland on Saturday: "The Scottish Government have chosen to spend double the amount on independence planning than they are on long Covid.

"We're in a situation where it's £3 million a year being given to long Covid, for £10 million in total, and that's not going to be anywhere near enough what we need.

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"But worse than that, we have nothing.

"We have absolutely nothing across the health boards in Scotland."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We recognise the impact that long Covid can have on peoples' health and wellbeing.

"Given the range of symptoms which can be involved, we also know there's no 'one-size fits all' response and our approach is to support people with long Covid to access care and support in a setting that is appropriate and as close to their home as practicable.

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"Services and support are already being provided for those with long Covid and we are doing more to ensure that care is resourced and delivered across Scotland to support people in the most appropriate way.

"A long Covid strategic network has been established and brings together clinical experts, NHS boards, third-sector organisations including Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland and those with lived experience to guide how we plan and design care and ensure our £10 million Long Covid Support Fund is targeted at the areas where additional support can make the biggest difference."