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Number of Scots living with long-term effects of Long Covid more than doubles in 6 months

New estimates from the Office of National Statistics show that the number of people living with Long Covid for more than 12 months has reached 64,000 – more than double the level it was 6 months ago.

In November 2021, 29,000 people were living with the condition for more than a year. Now, 24% of people living with Long Covid in Scotland say their daily lives have been ‘affected a lot’ – compared with the UK average of 19%.

The estimates show that in total 151,000 people are living with Long Covid (of any duration) in Scotland.

As the largest charity caring for people with the condition, we are reissuing a call to the Scottish Government to take urgent action as numbers experiencing long-term effects from Long Covid continue to rise steadily each month.

We have been campaigning over the last 12 months to make sure that third sector services are better integrated with NHS services to allow us to reach more people who are in need of support and alleviate pressures on the health service.

We want to ensure that more people are able to access our Long Covid Support Service which is jointly funded by the Scottish Government, but barriers created by lack of proper referral and data-sharing systems are slowing down partnerships, particularly with GPs.

Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, said:

"The number of people living with the long term effects of Long Covid is increasing at an alarming rate. Every month more and more people are needing support and progress to meet their needs for care just isn’t fast enough. They deserve better and we need to see more urgent action from the Scottish Government.

"People might feel we are getting back to some kind of normality, but so many people with Long Covid feel there is no return to normality in sight. Many are struggling to return to their jobs or do the things many of us take for granted like going for a walk to the end of the road.

"We need to see the £10 million Scottish Government funding announced in September translate into real changes to care and education. People are still telling us that they struggle to receive a diagnosis, get the tests they need and access to support is not consistent.

"We need to see urgent action to make sure a wraparound service is in place. That service also needs a system where people can be easily referred through to third sector services to ensure we’re reaching everyone with Long Covid who needs support."

"I need to know if I’ve got this for the rest of my life"

Wendy Stevenson, 51, lives in Larbert. She is a community psychiatric nurse who contracted Covid-19 in November 2020 and has been living with the symptoms of Long Covid ever since. 

For three months after contracting Covid-19, Wendy Stevenson had to sleep sitting upright because of chest pain.

Now, almost 18 months on, she is still living with the effects of the virus as she deals with Long Covid and still dealing with that constant chest pain.

She returned to work as a community psychiatric nurse part-time last summer but has only been able to work full-time since November, a full year after first falling ill with Covid-19.

Where Wendy was once active and sporty – she swam, cycled and went to the gym regularly – she can no longer do any of the physical activities she once took for granted.

She says: "I was on special sick leave for months. I had every kind of symptom, from permanent headache to constant dizziness, kidney and groin pain, restricted breathing and increased heart rate.

"I saw the asthma nurse through my GP and was treated for breathlessness with antibiotics and steroids, but it didn’t clear up. For the first three months after getting Covid, I had to sleep upright because of the pain in my chest. I still have that pain."

Wendy began working from home an hour a day last May. But even those 60 minutes left her exhausted. Her sister called her every day to check in on her, but she says she couldn’t remember their conversation from one day to the next.

She says: "I signed up to be part of the Zoe study on Covid and had to fill out a daily symptom checker. I had a lot of symptoms when I first filled it out that have got a little bit less over time.

"But I still have the chest pains and the breathlessness. My chest is still not right.

"I don’t know what they can do to make things better for people like me. But if there is damage to my chest, I need to know. I need to know if I’ve got this for the rest of my life."

If you are living with Long Covid and looking for advice and information, please contact Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid Advice Line on 0808 801 0899 or email adviceline@chss.org.uk

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