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Cash award to help heart charity tackle long Covid care challenges

By Alan Beresford

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COMMITTING long Covid is at the heart of a six-figure award to a major heart health charity.

Long Covid sufferer Sandra Potter.
Long Covid sufferer Sandra Potter.

Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS) has announced £760,000 of joint funding with the Scottish Government which it says is a vital first step to creating a co-ordinated nationwide approach to care for people with long covid.

The package, which will see Scottish Government contribute £460,000 of funds with £300,000 provided from CHSS, will boost capacity for the charity’s support services. Over the coming months it will also lead to the creation of a co-ordinated nationwide care pathway between the NHS, GPs and CHSS.

The development comes following the charity’s Long Covid Care Now campaign which saw people send over a thousand emails to their MSPs urging action to offer better care for people with the condition.

Long Covid is a complex condition with sufferers experiencing a variety of symptoms ranging from breathlessness, chronic fatigue, anxiety and stress. It is estimated that as many as 10 per cent of people who have had Covid are now living with long Covid in Scotland.

CHSS has set up an advice line for people with Long Covid to help people manage feelings of anxiety, breathlessness, fatigue and stress. It is already open for people to call – 0808 801 0899 – and over the coming months the charity’s services will become a routine part of the NHS referral system meaning that GPs and health professionals will automatically be able to refer patients to the service for help.

Discussions are continuing with the Scottish Government on other areas where people affected by Long Covid have identified improvements including the need for better training for health professionals, access to tests and rehabilitation.

Jane-Claire Judson, CHSS Chief Executive, said: “No one should be left to struggle with Long Covid alone.

"This joint funding package with the Scottish Government is a vital first step in providing better all-round care for people suffering the debilitating long-term effects of this devastating virus.

“There are a number of steps still to take to get to a fully integrated, nationwide service for long Covid, but this funding will make sure that people can now get better support. Over the coming months we will be working with people living with long Covid, the NHS and the Scottish Government to make sure that the process of accessing the full range of help and support gets easier.

“Right now, we’re encouraging people affected to call our Long Covid Advice Line on 0808 801 0899 for help. Please do not suffer alone.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman commented: “We know that many people are suffering from the effects of the virus on both their physical and mental health.

"We are committed to ensuring they have nationwide and co-ordinated care that meets their needs. I’m pleased that working with Chest, Heart and Stroke we are able to benefit from their experience and with the financial support we’ve provided, work to help provide the right care to those affected.

“There is still much to learn and a great deal to be done, but this Government, clinicians, specialist healthcare professionals and important organisations like Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland are working hard to make sure people can access the services currently available and that we make the improvements needed as quickly as possible.

“The Scottish Government recognises and is grateful for the vital work third sector organisations, including Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, are doing across the country to support people who are living with the longer term effects of Covid-19.”

Long Covid suffer Sandra Potter, age 72 from Bathgate in West Lothian explained why this comes as welcome news.

She said: “I am so pleased someone is finally listening to us.

"I saw a doctor after I first got Covid, and she apologised because she couldn’t do anything for me. She said to me ‘just take it easy and try to recover’.

“Well, I’m trying, but I’m still not feeling any better and I know there are lots of people like me.

“It is a relief to hear that Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland and the Scottish Government is taking this seriously. It gives me hope that there might be a recovery for us all.”

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