The NHS is to launch an on-demand coronavirus recovery service aimed at supporting people with long-term breathing problems, mental health issues or other complications after contracting the virus.
The ‘Your Covid Recovery’ service will allow patients to access advice from nurses, metal health specialists and physiotherapists whenever and wherever they like, should they need it.
The NHS said many coronavirus survivors were likely to have significant on-going health problems, including breathing difficulties; reduced muscle function; post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
Scientists are also investigating widespread claims that patients are suffering with fatigue and have problems with concentration.
Health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday: “This is a really serious problem for a minority of people who have Covid. Some people have long-term effects that look like a post-viral fatigue syndrome.”
All Covid-19 patients who have been hospitalised or suffered at home will have access to a face-to-face consultation with a local rehabilitation team, comprised of physiotherapists, mental health specialists and nurses. After this, those who need it will be offered a personalised package of online-based aftercare for up to 12 weeks.
The service includes:
- access to a local clinical team of specialists
- an online peer-support community for survivors
- exercise tutorials that people can do from home to help them regain muscle strength and lung function, and
- mental health support, which may include a psychologist within the online hub or referral into NHS mental health services along with information on what to expect post-Covid.
The first phase of the service’s roll out will begin later this month and will involve the publication of advice on recovering from the virus. This will be available to all.
The second phase, involving personalised support packages, will be launched later in the summer.
Professor Singh from the University of Leicester, which is working on the support packages and recovery advice, said: “This will be one of the first sites in the world rolled out nationally seeking to address potential post-Covid symptoms and support people on the road to recovery.
“We have brought together a wide range of experts representing a number of professional societies who have made valuable contributions to the site, to allow us to have a comprehensive package of information and advice. Importantly we have worked with people with first-hand experience of Covid to help shape the site and make sure the content was fit for purpose.”
Local health leaders within the NHS are working with councils and voluntary groups to plan how they will meet the additional demand for rehabilitation services. The majority of services will be delivered by or within existing NHS facilities, but temporary facilities dedicated to coronavirus rehabilitation may also be used.