A new cross-party group on Long Covid met for the first time yesterday evening. Edinburgh Western MSP and Leader of Liberal Democrats Alex Cole-Hamilton, Jackie Baillie MSP and Sanesh Gulhane MSP co-founded the group. It is estimated that Long Covid affects as many as 100 thousand Scots, including thousands of children.
After the first meeting, Mr Cole-Hamilton remarked:
“Long Covid looks set to be the biggest mass disabling event since the First World War. Many who contracted this devastating condition in the first wave were never tested for Covid and have struggled to get a diagnosis or even be believed by clinicians. Provision for long Covid is very poor in Scotland with no long Covid clinics or nurses available to Scots whilst they are available in the rest of the U.K., a disadvantage that I have continually raised with the Government. Months on, it still feels like nothing is being done. In the summer I asked for:
- Specialist long Covid clinics,
- The training of long Covid community nurses to offer in-home support,
- Country-wide access to long Covid physiotherapy and multi-disciplinary rehab,
- A policy of no financial detriment for Scottish public sector workers who are absent for long periods of time due to long Covid.
“This group of people are suffering from a whole range of symptoms, often with no certainty of recovery. That’s why, alongside Jackie and Sanesh, we founded this group. Bringing together existing smaller groups and patients to share experience is a good starting point. The Scottish Government needs to be investing far more in support for those with long Covid including specialised clinics and new in-home support. The NHS Recovery Plan offered nothing to help Scots with long Covid. They would be better off moving to England where they are specialist clinics. That needs to change. I hope that the Health Secretary will accept our invitation for a future meeting and we can give thousands of Scots some new hope for their future.”
Stuart Mciver, a constituent of Alex’s who has long Covid and attended the meeting said:
"The first meeting of The Long Covid Cross party group met last night, it was great to attend as a patient and hear powerful stories and lived experience be put at the heart of the group's first session, the work of the CPG will be vital, as sufferers need immediate and ongoing help . The group heard moving testimonies of how Long Covid affects children, employment and care and the need to offer effective support."