What is Long COVID?

“Long Covid is a multi-system condition with a range of debilitating symptoms – signs and symptoms continue or develop after acute Covid-19, continue for more than 4 weeks, and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.” (NICE, 2022).

Read the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing the long-term effects of COVID-19. 

Please note, each patient with Long COVID has a unique set of symptoms, needs and circumstances. A care plan will be tailored and agreed with your clinician.

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What does our service offer?

The Sirona Community Long COVID Service supports adults who still have symptoms related to a COVID infection 12 weeks (or four weeks if severe) after their acute infection. The aim of the service is to assess ongoing symptoms and their impact on daily function and wellbeing. We can then provide support to access resources and/or services to enable adjustments to support symptom management and recovery.

We are a multidisciplinary team of professionals who all have experience in rehabilitation and long – term condition management

The management of patients with Long COVID will usually focus on lifestyle factors, pacing and psychological support.

Posters:

I think I have Long COVID

I am a GP/healthcare practitioner

Video edited on Kapwing

How can I access the service?

We currently only accept referrals from GP’s. This is to ensure all patients are appropriately assessed before referral to exclude any other causes for their symptoms.

A GP/Healthcare Practitioner will be able to make a referral directly. Guidance is available on:

  1. Remedy
  2. National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

I've been referred, what happens next?

On reaching the top of our waiting list, you will be offered an initial assessment, usually by telephone and lasting approximately 45 minutes.

Following your initial assessment, you and your clinician will discuss the most suitable support options and together will agree a rehabilitation plan.

The Long COVID Service is designed to offer an initial assessment and one or two follow-up appointments to establish a definitive treatment plan. Discuss with your clinician whether telephone, video or face to face appointments are most suitable for you.

A variety of pathways may be available for you, both inhouse or led by other services we work closely with.

Important:
We are not an urgent or emergency care service. If you develop new or progressively worsening symptoms, you must seek medical advice either via your GP, 111 or if life threatening then 999.

Your GP will remain responsible for your medical care.

Click the image below to see the journey of someone using our service:

Please note, each patient with Long COVID has a unique set of symptoms, needs and circumstances. A care plan will be tailored and agreed with your clinician.

What can I do whilst I wait for my initial assessment?

Being unwell with COVID-19 and being unwell for a longer time can be distressing, and people can feel worried, anxious and struggle with their mood and sleep. It can be frustrating when symptoms feel out of our control. It’s important to understand how to manage energy levels and pace yourself to spread out activity by alternating it with rest periods rather than falling into a boom and bust cycle, as seen below.

The Boom Bust Cycle

Day 1: Having a ‘good’ day, completing a lot of activities (Boom).

Day 2/3: Due to overdoing yourself on the ‘good’ day you suffer with increased fatigue the following day and need rest (Bust).

Day 4: After the rest days, you feel better so go back to doing a lot of activities (Boom).

Day 5: Again you suffer with another increased period of fatigue and need to rest for another day (Bust).

Day 6: Due to the rest day you have another ‘good’ day (Boom).

Day 7: This leads to another increase in fatigue symptoms (Bust).

 

Top tips 

Click the image below to download a poster showing five top tips from the Long COVID service. 

Top Tips for friends, family, carers and colleagues

Long COVID will affect not only the person living with the condition, but also the people close to them. The person living with Long COVID may need more support than usual, which will help them as they recover or manage their condition. Long COVID is a fluctuating condition by nature and every caring situation is unique so this might involve providing support with everyday jobs around the home, emotional support, help with administrative tasks or giving personal care. It is important for carers to not to neglect their own physical and mental wellbeing, including maintaining social connections. Looking after their own needs alongside those of the person with Long COVID will ultimately ensure they are in a good position to provide care.

Download our Friends and Family Support document. 

Research

At the time of writing, there is no known definitive cause for why some people develop Long COVID Syndrome and others do not. It is likely that there will be multiple causes and mechanisms.

Research is underway globally to help us understand the mechanisms, cause for symptoms and possible treatments, but due to the nature of clinical research there can be a delay with implementation into practice due to strict safety considerations.

We understand your frustration and are working hard to implement findings that are proven to be clinically effective.

  1. What is the current research on Long COVID?

  2. How can I take part in research for Long Covid? 
Email: sirona.longcovid@nhs.net

Phone: 0300 124 5395

Opening hours: 8am – 4pm, Monday-Friday

Useful Links

Your COVID recovery

advice for patients, such as managing breathlessness and post-viral fatigue.

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists recovery guide

Post-Covid Hub

Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation

Have you been offered a video consultation?

Click here for more information