The Royal College of GPs has today responded to NHS England's long COVID plan 2021/2022.
Dr Gail Allsopp, Clinical Lead for Clinical Policy for the Royal College of GPs, described the announcement of a £100 million total investment into general practice and the expansion of NHS long COVID services "encouraging".
She said: “GPs and our teams are the forefront of delivering physical, psychological, and emotional support to an increasing number of patients suffering with long-term symptoms of COVID-19.
“The College has been calling for more in post-COVID syndrome (long COVID) education, treatment and rehabilitation for some time, and whilst we await full details, it’s encouraging that £30 million will be invested into general practice to support GPs and our teams to deliver high-quality care to patients suffering with post-COVID syndrome and £70 million into expanding other NHS long COVID services, including the establishing of ‘paediatric hubs’ for children and young people. This should give GPs better access to specialist services that can be of real benefit for patients.
Dr Allsopp emphasised the necessity for GPs to now have increased access to appropriate diagnostic tools in the community and better access to rehabilitation services to be able to refer patients to be treated quickly.
She said: “What we now need to see is increased access for GPs and our teams to appropriate diagnostic tools in the community, to speed up the initial investigatory phase that GPs undertake to rule out other potential serious conditions or illnesses, before making a diagnosis of post-COVID syndrome.
“Perhaps most importantly, we need government to expand and fully fund rehabilitation services, in addition to the assessment clinics already in place, so GPs have better access to these services and are able to refer patients to receive the care and treatment that they need quickly."
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