Almost three-quarters (31) of the 42 integrated care systems (ICSs) in England now have at least one long Covid clinic operating in their area, the latest data shows.
The clinics – first announced in October – offer physical and psychological assessments, with physicians able to refer patients to appropriate services to manage symptoms such as fatigue and muscle pain.
A spokesperson for NHS England confirmed to Healthcare Leader that there are currently 69 clinics up and running, with this number due to increase to 83 by the end of April.
The main criteria for the sites – which are either primary care-led or in a hospital setting – is that they can provide the relevant assessments and have access to a multi-disciplinary team and diagnostic testing, NHS England said.
This comes after NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens said at a Health Service Journal event last week that the NHS aimed to have ‘at least one’ clinic in every ICS.
He added that the clinics would be backed with ‘at least £24m earmarked revenue funding’ up from the £10m announced last year, and that ‘there will be more to come’.
A comparison of the list of long Covid sites, seen by Healthcare Leader, with the list of ICSs shows that four ICSs – South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, North East and North Cumbria, the Black Country, Surrey Heartlands all currently have four long Covid clinics.
Meanwhile, Humber, Coast and Vale ICS, West Yorkshire and Harrogate, and Berkshire West, Oxford and Buckinghamshire all have five clinics, and Greater Manchester has seven.
The remaining 11 ICSs without a long Covid clinic are:
- Birmingham and Solihull
- Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
- Hampshire and the Isle of Wight
- Kent and Medway
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
More than 1.1 million affected
Earlier this month, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that an estimated 1.1 million people in the UK were living with symptoms associated with long Covid.
Of this number, 674,000 people felt their symptoms were adversely affecting their day-to-day activities, the ONS said.
The NHS Confederation commented at the time that this was a ‘clear reminder’ of the additional pressures being placed on primary care teams and that more investment was needed to tackle the condition.
Meanwhile in March, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) made a second call for research proposals on the treatment and management of long Covid.
The Institute said it would award up to £20m to research on treatments, health services and diagnostics, with a call for proposals on areas including treatment pathways and service management for health, community, and social care services, and on diagnostic testing.