While most people's symptoms of COVID-19 resolve within a few weeks, some people experience persisting or new symptoms after their initial infection with the virus.
There remains much we do not yet know about long COVID, including the underlying causes, why some people are affected and others not, and importantly, exactly how long these effects can be expected to last for any one individual. However, there is much we do know about how people affected can be well supported.
In a situation involving uncertainty, supporting people to make informed choices about their care and treatment options, based on what matters most to them, is key.
Providing clear information at the right time can help people to feel more in control of their condition, and live their lives better, on their terms.
Our response to long COVID depends on having a range of well integrated sources of support, given the wide spectrum of needs that people affected can sometimes have.
This range of support is already being delivered by our NHS, social care and third sector across Scotland. We have an approach in place that will strengthen the range of support available within the primary care setting, providing a person-centred response with referrals to secondary care where necessary.
However, there remains more to be done and this paper sets out the key elements that underpin our approach to care and support for people with long COVID. It also underlines our commitment to making sure our NHS is resourced to respond innovatively to the needs of people with the condition.
Through our £10 million long COVID Support Fund we will provide Boards with the resource they require to respond in a flexible and tailored manner to the needs of people with long COVID. The fund will support local services to develop and deliver the best models of care appropriate for their populations, which could include strengthening and improving the co-ordination of existing services, or establishing dedicated services (including 'long COVID clinics' if appropriate).
In navigating new and uncertain territory, it is right to chart a direction of travel and update that route in the light of evidence as it continues to emerge. As such, our approach is flexible and subject to ongoing review, to ensure that care and support is consistently person-centred, clinically effective and safe, for every person with long COVID, all of the time.