There are 69 hospitals trusts treating patients with long term Covid symptoms
The assessment centres are taking referrals from GPs for people experiencing brain fog, anxiety, depression, breathlessness, fatigue and other debilitating symptoms.
NHS England has provided £10 million for the network of clinics, which started opening last month.
New research from the Office for National Statistics found that one in five people with coronavirus develop longer term symptoms. Around 186,000 people suffer problems for up to 12 weeks.
The new centres bring together doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to offer both physical and psychological assessments and refer patients to the right treatment and rehabilitation services.
Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumbria Healthcare, County Durham and Darlington, North Tees and Hartlepool, South Tees Hospitals, Bradford Teaching hospitals, and Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust are part of the 69 trusts all involved in the scheme.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today also issued official guidance on best practice for recognising, investigating and rehabilitating patients with long COVID.
Patients can access services if they are referred by a GP or another healthcare professional, so that doctors can first rule out other possible underlying causes for symptoms.
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “The NHS is taking practical action to help patients suffering ongoing health issues as a result of coronavirus. Bringing expert clinicians together in these clinics will deliver an integrated approach to support patients access vital rehabilitation, as well as helping develop a greater understanding of long covid and its debilitating symptoms.”
Dr Graham Burns, clinical lead at the long covid centre at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, said: ”In the first wave of the pandemic many people did not recover as quickly as they’d expected. We had no idea what long covid was – the world had never seen COVID-19 before. We set up the clinic in Newcastle to support patients, but it has also been invaluable in helping us understand what long covid is.
“I’m delighted that patients now have places to turn to across the country turn and on a national scale doctors will be able to learn from our collective experience and offer tailored support to patients.”
The NHS has also launched a long COVID taskforce, with patients, charities, researchers and clinicians involved, to help lead the NHS response to long covid, produce information and support materials for patients and healthcare professionals, and develop a wider understanding of the condition.