Agenda item

Long Covid Update

This report seeks to provide an update on the NHS Kent and Medway understanding of Long Covid, including prevalence and current service arrangements. It will also outline planned future developments.




Members considered a report which provided an update on the NHS Kent and Medway understanding of Long Covid, including prevalence, current service arrangements and planned future developments.


The following issues were discussed:


·       Referral levels – in response to why the number of referrals was low compared to the number of infections, Members were advised that some people were referred directly to specialists in secondary care or had mild symptoms which did not require treatment. It was generally the people in the middle of this range, with moderate symptoms, who were seen by the service. In terms of whether most referrals came from the groups most likely to suffer from long covid, Members were advised that there were national studies on which groups were more likely to suffer from long covid and why and that the service did monitor patient demographics. Referrals aligned with expected patient cohorts.

·       Encouraging the public to recognise the symptoms of long covid – Members were advised that the service had undertaken a limited amount of public facing work. A lot of effort had been made to encourage people to see their GP in the first instance given that long covid symptoms were similar to other conditions to ensure exclusion of other causes.

·       Treatment pathways - in terms of how long people remained on treatment pathways and whether there was a stepping down process, the Committee was informed that there was no set time for how long patients stayed on the pathway, due to the variability of symptoms and recovery trajectory between patients.

·       Economic impact of long covid the service had not looked at this but did support people with vocational rehabilitation to get back to work.

·       Reducing inequalities – in response to a request for more information about how long covid affected different groups, Members were advised that the most affected groups were people with long term conditions, deprived communities and those who were not vaccinated.

·       Engagement with the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in response to whether the service was working with the VCS, Members heard that the service was very closely linked to the VCS, especially around social prescribing. There were also links with local gyms which had long covid rehabilitation programmes. A point was made that the service should not just focus on the health orientated side of the VCS but should discuss with the VCS as a network how to educate and engage with hard to reach groups. A request was also made that the service engage with community health groups.

·       Future outcomes for long covid Members were told that the service was not specifically doing any research on this but they were informed by other work being done and were keeping abreast of emerging evidence. The Director of Public Health added that there were currently 19 studies nationally looking at different aspects of long covid and their findings were fed to treatment services. This research programme included looking at the economic impact of long covid.

·       Figures for Medway an undertaking was given to provide the figures for the number of long covid cases in Medway and how they compared to other areas.

·       Shortage of GPs – a concern was expressed that the lack of GPs must be affecting the ability of people to access the long covid service.




The Committee agreed to note the report.



Supporting documents: