A new care pathway is now up and running in Northamptonshire to help people with ‘Long COVID’ to get the support they need to manage their symptoms.
The definition of Long COVID is any patient who has had COVID-19 and is still experiencing symptoms that can’t be explained by any other condition for 12 weeks or more. The most common symptoms are breathlessness, fatigue and mild cognitive impairment (brain fog).
Under the new Long COVID pathway, which began accepting referrals in Northamptonshire in December, patients assessed by their GP as suffering from the condition are offered an initial screening questionnaire to assess their breathing, energy levels, mood and cognitive function on a scale of 0-5 (0 being ‘back to normal’ and 5 indicating severe symptoms).
Depending on the outcome of this screening assessment, they may be signposted to online resources to help self-manage their condition or be offered a supported rehabilitation programme from the NHS’s Your COVID Recovery website at www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk.
Alternatively, a further in-depth, semi-structured questionnaire with a health care professional – known as a post-COVID assessment clinic – may be required. If appropriate the patient may then be referred on to an appropriate NHS service to support with their needs.
Those with more complex needs resulting from Long COVID may be put in touch with a multi-disciplinary team, which could include a psychologist, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, GP, respiratory consultant and input from the voluntary sector.
They will work with the patient to understand their individual needs and decide the next best course of action for their circumstances.