Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to do more to support those suffering from “long Covid” to recover and return to work. There has been increasing recognition of Covid-19 patients who have long term health effects after the initial period of illness, including breathlessness and exhaustion even months later. Other symptoms include a persistent cough, joint pain, muscle aches, hearing and eyesight problems, headaches, loss of smell and taste as well as damage to the heart, lungs, kidneys and gut.
Mr Carmichael highlighted the need for both health and financial support for those suffering from long Covid who may struggle to return immediately to work.
In response to Mr Carmichael’s question, the minister, Jo Churchill MP said:
“NICE and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network will work with the Royal College of General Practitioners to develop guidelines to support patients’ recovery of this disease. This follows on from the NHS launch in July of the “Your Covid Recovery” service, which provides personalised support for individuals. In addition we're funding research into Covid-19, building our understanding of the long-term effects and helping direct improved treatments.”
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“I thank the minister for that very helpful and comprehensive answer. There is a growing body of evidence that a number of people continue to suffer with this for months after it’s been contracted in a quite debilitating way. Will she make the case to the Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions in particular to ensure that all those who suffer from long Covid get the support that’s necessary for them?”
Responding, Jo Churchill MP said:
“It is a new disease on which we are still gathering evidence so that we can best support the individual in their recovery and arguably their new Covid-tinged life. I will assure him that that is precisely what I will be doing, looking at the evidence base and making sure we’re working with the colleges and general practitioners to make sure that we get the right answers.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“I am glad that the minister is aware of the challenges faced by sufferers of long Covid. It is vital that the Treasury and the Department for Work and Pensions are taking this issue into account as well. Those who face a long path to recovery need our full support – they should not be punished simply for being ill.”