A Healthwatch Haringey report has revealed the devastating impact of long Covid-19 on people’s mental, social and financial wellbeing, as well as the long-term effects on physical health.
The study, which follows an NCL research project conducted by Healthwatch, found that Haringey residents living with long Covid-19 are finding it hard to access healthcare support. Long Covid-19 is a new and evolving condition that has greatly impacted the health and quality of life of many Haringey residents. National trends suggest there should be more than 3,000 Haringey residents diagnosed with long Covid-19.
This research follows figures recently released on this issue by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS data showed that one in every 32 people has long Covid-19, a post-viral syndrome that can persist for weeks or months after an initial bout of Covid-19.
Almost half (47%) of those surveyed in Haringey felt their GP had little or no knowledge about the symptoms and effects of long Covid-19. 71% said that long Covid-19 had impacted their ability to work or the number of hours that they can work. Two people were made redundant and one accepted voluntary severance (along with others in their firm who also had long Covid-19).
Respondents reported significant, wide ranging, multiple and severe physical health impacts. These included fatigue/exhaustion, stomach problems, heart palpitations, headaches, brain fog, aching limbs, insomnia, pain in muscles and bones, severe back pain, joint pain, decreased mobility and loss of taste and smell. Developing long Covid-19 also had a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing, including lower self-esteem and confidence, less communication with family and friends, low mood and depression.
Healthwatch Haringey Chair, Sharon Grant OBE, said: “Our extensive listening exercise demonstrates beyond doubt that long Covid-19 is real and lifechanging. We hope that our study of the lived experience of patients will aid the response of both NHS and social care services to the challenges they continue to face.”
Healthwatch Haringey’s recommendations include:
- explore and address the issue of undiagnosed long Covid-19 amongst Haringey residents, particularly focusing on the more deprived east side of the borough
- more training for GPs so that they are able to recognise long Covid-19 symptoms, provide a diagnosis, provide the patient with good quality information, and refer on appropriately
- more training for GPs so that they can support long Covid-19 patients appropriately within primary care by giving them information about self-management techniques, helplines, local support groups etc
- develop effective communications around long Covid-19 for the general public, raising awareness of what it is and encouraging them to seek medical advice and help.