Specialist virtual clinic set up by Suffolk NHS trust for long Covid patients

It is not known how many people may have contracted long Covid Picture: Getty Images

It's not known how many people in Suffolk are facing the effects of long covid - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A specialist clinic to help people suffering from the long-term effects of Covid-19 has been set up by a Suffolk NHS trust. 

The Suffolk and North East Essex Long Covid Assessment Service (SNELCAS) is a virtual clinic which will refer patients directly to the appropriate services or specialist clinics for their needs.

Long Covid is defined as symptoms that develop during or following an infection consistent with Covid-19 which continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

Symptoms include brain fog, anxiety, depression, breathlessness and fatigue. 

So far more than 700 patients who have developed longer-term health problems after recovering from the acute phase of COVID-19 in hospital have been treated by the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System. 

MORE: Suffolk patients tell of the impact of long Covid

Nearly 7,000 people in Suffolk and north east Essex have survived Covid-19 but the number of people who might have Long Covid is unknown.

Patients who may need the service's help will first be assessed by their GPs to rule out other causes but if after 12 weeks their symptoms have not improved, their GP will refer them into the SNELCAS screening hub.

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From there they will be further assessed and can be referred into a combination of other services such as physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, dietetics, mental health services and social prescribing, with further hospital treatment if necessary.

Peter Holloway, a GP in Mendlesham and cancer lead for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commiss

Clinical lead for the development of SNELCAS, Dr Peter Holloway - Credit: WARREN PAGE/PAGEPIX

The clinical lead for the development of SNELCAS, Dr Peter Holloway said: “It has been a huge challenge to design and construct a service from scratch in such a short time. 

"I nevertheless believe we have established a thorough and effective core service to support and treat patients with Long Covid."

Lee Taylor, head of strategy for the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, NHS West Suffolk and NHS North East Essex CCGs, who led on the development of SNELCAS, said: “We hope that most people will be able to make a full recovery but there could be others left with more serious conditions as a result of the way COVID-19 has affected them.

"I am grateful to everyone who has helped to put this complex care plan together."