Patients suffering with longterm symptoms of coronavirus can now access a specialist service provided by South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
The trust has set up a long COVID clinic to take referrals from GP practices and secondary care for people experiencing “brain fog”, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.
Appointments are being provided at Redcar Primary Care Hospital thanks to funding from NHS England which has provided £10million to open a network of more than 60 long COVID clinics across the country.
Research from the Office for National Statistics has shown one in five people with coronavirus develop longer term symptoms. Around 186,000 people suffer problems for up to 12 weeks.
The clinic brings together doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and psychologists to offer both physical and psychological assessments and refer patients for further investigation, medical therapies and rehabilitation services.
South Tees’ patients benefit from the trust’s expertise in respiratory medicine, medical psychology, physiotherapy and lung function testing as well as its support services such as radiology and the cardiac investigation unit.
George Antunes, respiratory and general medicine consultant said: “It’s a one stop service that addresses physical and psychological complications.
“We are currently seeing six patients a week and the feedback we have received so far has been amazing. They have just felt someone has listened to them.”
Rehan Mustafa, respiratory medicine consultant added: “At times we find that a patient’s lung function is normal but they could benefit from relaxation techniques and advice regarding their breathing pattern.
“In such instances specialist support from the chest physiotherapists and medical psychologists can make the difference. Also working together with specialists from other disciplines delivers the perfect opportunity to learn from each other.”
Gareth Alderson, 49, of Northallerton, was suffering with persistent symptoms after contracting COVID-19 last year. He attended the clinic and received support from the respiratory physiotherapist, respiratory psychologist and respiratory consultant.
He said: “The team has massively helped me in my recovery, in ways I hadn’t even thought about. I have been reassured and given peace of mind in going forward.
“The respiratory physio team were very pivotal in addressing my physical requirements, but the whole team gelled into a very impressive holistic approach.
“The team at the long COVID clinic are hugely helpful and have allowed me to move on with support and advice. Each member was very approachable, empathetic and proactive in their advice. I cannot recommend them enough.
“Well done on providing a much needed and fantastic service through these difficult times.”
To access the long COVID clinic patients must be referred by a GP or another healthcare professional. This ensures other possible underlying causes for symptoms have been ruled out.