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R EHABI L I TATION


Rehabilitation challenges for long COVID sufferers


Speaking at Connect Health’s Change webinar, a panel of experts raised concerns around the rehabilitation of patients recovering from COVID-19. Sufferers of ‘Long Covid’ are being “dismissed and not listened to” and there is “no culture of rehabilitation in the UK”, they warned.


A panel of leading experts in the fields of general practice, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, and academia, joined Connect Health’s latest Change webinar on 11 November 2020, exploring Long COVID and questioning the challenges of treatment for patients. Key themes from the session included the desperate need for integrated, multi- specialty, multi-disciplinary care, the importance of acknowledging the sufferings of Long COVID patients who often have to “fight their way through the system” and working with patients to co-design services and support research. Frustrations around the nation’s current lack of and “inadequate” rehabilitation services were raised. As was the need for mental and physical health to be treated together, rather than in isolation to one another.


The event was chaired by Matthew


Wyatt, consultant physiotherapist and clinical lead (South) Connect Health and associate director (clinical excellence) MSKReform. Speakers included Dr. Emma Ladds, general practice academic clinical fellow, Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford and Prof. Trish Greenhalgh, professor of primary care health sciences and fellow of Green Templeton College at the University of Oxford. Joining them was Dr. John Etherington CBE, president at The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine UK, medical director Pure Sports Medicine and Jack Chew, director MSKReform, physiotherapist. Setting the scene, Dr. Ladds gave an


overview on what the condition is, the perceived impact on the population and the symptoms of Long COVID. She continued by sharing her views on the implications for primary care, explaining the differences that could be made to support patients and concluding her segment with, “there’s an


JANUARY 2021


enormous need that’s going currently unmet.” When asked by Connect’s Matthew Wyatt what her “top tips and advice would be for a consultation with Long COVID patients in primary care,” Dr. Ladds highlighted distressing conversations she’d had with patients who felt they’d been dismissed or not listened to by healthcare professionals, including GPs.


She explained: “One of the challenges is that every patient presenting with Long COVID can present differently. So, really listening to them, hearing their story and not dismissing them is important.” Following the research undertaken with 100 Long COVID patients, Prof. Trish Greenhalgh warned that “coming out loud and clear” is that: “the current services


in most places are not adequate to meet people’s needs.”


In consultation with these patients, Prof. Greenhalgh explained six principles for a Long COVID service were raised. The A-F principles cover: l Access to services. How presently, people can’t access some kind of COVID service.


l Burden on the patient. Particularly those having to “fight their way through the system” when there should be a straightforward referral system.


l Clinical responsibility and continuity of care. One person to follow up and take responsibility for that patient’s care.


l Disciplinary in multi-disciplinary care. l Evidence-based standards. l Further research.


WWW.CLINICALSERVICESJOURNAL.COM l 31





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