£10 million for NHS Boards.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has announced a new £10 million Long COVID Support Fund to help health boards respond to the condition.
The announcement follows Mr Yousaf meeting with a range of healthcare professionals at Eastwood Health and Care Centre in East Renfrewshire and speaking with patient Pamela Bell who has been receiving support for long COVID since she contracted the virus almost a year ago.
The Long COVID Support Fund is designed to maximise and improve the co-ordination of a broad range of existing services across the health and social care system and Third Sector in response to the condition. It will be a flexible fund that will be tailored to local needs. It will strengthen the range of information and advice available, and ensure the right support is available within primary care, providing a response focused on each patient’s needs, with referrals to secondary care where necessary.
Mr Yousaf said:
“We know that long COVID can’t be handled with a one-size-fits-all approach. It can be complex and involve an array of diverse symptoms and combinations of those symptoms.
“The new Long COVID Support Fund will give our NHS Boards the flexibility to design and deliver the best care for those with long COVID, tailored to the specific needs of their populations.
“It’s been great to meet Pamela and hear how she has benefited from care and rehabilitation in a setting close to home. Long COVID patients are being supported by the full range of NHS services – primary care teams and community-based rehabilitation services with referrals to secondary care where necessary – and I want to thank our dedicated staff for their hard work.”
Mrs Bell, 62, from Glasgow, met with the Health Secretary to discuss her experience since testing positive for COVID last September. She has a mild chest condition – bronchiectasis – which meant she had to shield at the start of the pandemic. After contracting the virus she was admitted to hospital where she ended up in intensive care and intubated for almost three months.
By the time she was transferred to a respiratory ward on Hogmanay, she could not move and ultimately went to a Physical Disability Rehabilitation Unit for intensive physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.
She also received intervention and oxygen therapy in a respiratory ward, and returned home with long-term oxygen at the beginning of June, where she receives ongoing care from a Community Rehabilitation Team to support her to regain her independence, function and mobility. Mrs Bell, who previously worked in a children’s nursery, has had to retire due to ill health.
Mrs Bell, a mother-of-two who is due to become a grandmother next Spring, said:
“Recently I was able to walk for two minutes and 40 seconds – which is a huge achievement for me.
“Before COVID, I was a senior child development officer, which involved outdoor play. I’d be in the playground or taking the children on forest walks, doing at least 15,000 steps a day. I’d help out in my community. I was there for everybody.
“This last year has been a challenge, when I’ve had to let other people take care of me. But I’m blown away by everything I’ve been given by the NHS. They are just amazing. Some of them visit me weekly, some are at the end of the phone, they deliver my oxygen and really look after me.”
Details of the new Long COVID Support Fund will be shared with NHS Boards in due course.
NHS Boards are responsible for delivering services to meet the needs of people with long-term effects of COVID-19 in their areas. While long COVID assessment clinics are one model they may explore, we recognise that no one single approach is likely to fit all areas and circumstances.
The Scottish Government’s 2021-22 Budget takes the total health portfolio funding to in excess of £16 billion, with a further £1.08 billion of funding to address pressures related to COVID-19. This substantial additional investment has benefited a range of NHS services which are supporting the needs of people living with long COVID.
As well as £2.5 million for research in Scotland, we have invested more than £460,000 to enable Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland to deliver a long COVID Support Service through which people can speak to advice line nurses trained in managing some of the most common symptoms such as breathlessness and fatigue.
We are implementing our 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 provide high quality person-centred rehabilitation in different settings.
The Scottish Government is engaging with NHS Boards as they co-ordinate pathways across primary, community and secondary care services to support patients through long COVID recovery.