Scottish Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP has today used a visit to Future Gym in South Queensferry to set out proposals for helping people with long Covid, as he warned that Scots with the condition would be better off moving to England given how woeful provision for the condition is in Scotland.
Last week Mr Cole-Hamilton met with a spokesperson from the group Long Covid Scotland to hear what measures they would like to see put in place. He is now calling for a coordinated national action plan on long Covid including:
- 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.
Patients in England have access to a network of specialist clinics and other support services. Meanwhile patients in Scotland are directed to a charity advice phoneline, internet guidance and what support their GP can offer.
Long Covid has been described as potentially the largest mass disabling event in modern times. It is characterised by symptoms including cognitive impairment (brain fog), gastrointestinal problems, chronic fatigue, dizziness, muscle wastage and ‘air-hunger’ (when someone feels they can’t fill their lungs with enough oxygen.)
Alex Cole-Hamilton said:
“There needs to a coordinated plan for helping the tens of thousands of Scots suffering with long Covid. As it stands, people with long Covid would be better off moving to England, given how woeful provision for the condition is here in Scotland.
"GPs and charities are doing their best but this debilitating event is on a different scale. The government's webpages aren't much use to someone with air-hunger who feels like they are suffocating and is literally gasping for breath.
“Specialist covid clinics should exist as a one-stop shop. There is a real advantage in being able to see the medical professionals you need in one place. It could be combined with other help to access wider support and financial advice.
"Physio, help to resume activities and strengthening support will also be important because fatigue, limb weakness and muscle atrophy are just a few of the common problems people are facing.
“The SNP Government has overlooked this hidden pandemic for too long and needs to take the best practice of our English neighbours and start delivering for the tens of thousands of Scots who are battling this devastating condition. We shouldn’t be afraid to learn from successes elsewhere in the UK.
“Over the coming months I intend to champion the case of Scots who have been left behind by the Scottish Government.”