GPs must be given ‘easy access’ to rehabilitation services in the community to assist patients who are suffering long-term Covid-19 symptoms, the Royal College of General Practice (RCGP) has said.
Professor Martin Marshall, RCGP chair, said: ‘It is essential that the GP workforce has the capacity and resources to handle these pressures as we approach what is set to be a busy winter.’
GPs also need access to appropriate diagnostic tools for patients suffering from symptoms such as fatigue, muscle aches and headaches for a prolonged period, said the RCGP, as these could also be signs of non-Covid conditions.
‘As well as delivering care to patients with conditions related directly or indirectly to Covid-19, GPs and our teams are also preparing for an expanded flu vaccination programme and a potential second wave of the virus, as well as continuing to care for the majority of patients who have non-Covid related conditions,’ added Professor Marshall.
Public Health England published data this week showing that 10% of people who suffered from mild coronavirus, but who were not admitted to hospital, reported symptoms lasting more than four weeks, and a number of hospitalised cases reported continuing symptoms for eight or more weeks after discharge.
A BBC investigation this week also found that only 10 of 86 CCGs it asked were running post-Covid rehabilitation clinics for patients who were not admitted to hospital with the virus, while a further 16 said they were planning or redesigning services.
Professor Marshall also called for more research ‘to help us properly understand recovery from the virus and its effects on long-term health’.