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An east London hospital trust has set up a “long COVID” clinic to help people who are still suffering from breathing difficulties, fatigue, depression, anxiety and even hair loss months after they caught the virus.
Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospital Trust (BHR) said it will support patients discharged from its hospitals as well as those who never needed to attend A&E but are still struggling with long-term effects of COVID three months after they caught it.
Residents can be referred to the clinic via their GP.
Respiratory consultant Dr Adam Ainley who oversees the clinic said: “We’re a small but enthusiastic team running a new and evolving service. At that first appointment patients get to spend time with each professional and it allows us to assess what support they need and hopefully provide them with the help they need in their on-going recovery.”
At their first appointment patients can see Dr Ainley, as well as a clinical psychologist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist.
About 140,000 Londoners have long COVID symptoms, it was revealed this week.
The revelation came in a letter from the London Assembly seeking assurances that the capital’s health system has the capacity to cope with the long-term consequences of the pandemic.
About one in five people who contract COVID suffer symptoms such as fatigue, breathlessness and “brain fog” for three months or more and early research suggested younger people and those whose illness was not serious enough to require hospitalisation were more likely to suffer.
Dr Ainley said: “It was a real team effort during the pandemic to establish a new service on top of existing pressure faced by our Respiratory team. It’s been a great collaborative effort working together with the North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) to support our patients.”
Debbie Feetham, assistant director for intermediate care at NELFT, added: “Within the Long COVID team we are working on linking our services with local opportunities like,
Singing for Health and virtual gym workouts, to provide optimal interventions to better patients’ wellbeing and support their recovery.
“We have had really positive feedback from our early referrals and are currently working together to make ourselves as widely available as possible. We also have cross over with other services, and are finding we’re able to support these teams, who have experienced additional pressure from the pandemic, allowing them to focus care on their own specialist caseload, but are readily available to support our team as needed.”