Scots more severely affected by Long Covid than UK average 05 August 2021 The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that 23% of people living with Long Covid in Scotland say their daily lives have been ‘affected a lot’ – compared to 19% UK-wide. While the number of Long Covid cases has dropped to 75,000 overall, the number of people whose daily lives have been severely affected by the condition in Scotland remains stubbornly high. We fear that people living with Long Covid in Scotland are still struggling to get the right support and feeling as if they have to suffer in silence. "While we welcome seeing a reduction in cases, it is really concerning to see that people living with Long Covid in Scotland seem to be more severely affected compared to the UK average and England," says Jane-Claire Judson, CEO of Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. "This worrying trend won’t be helped by the gaps in Long Covid care we’re seeing in Scotland. More really needs to be done to improve the care available to people with Long Covid – and quickly." Turned life upside down One person who understands the devastating effects of Long Covid is Tracey Binnie, 40, from Tranent in East Lothian. Just over a year ago, she was an active mum of one who thrived on a busy working life and enjoyed long walks with her two dogs. But Long Covid has turned Tracey’s life upside down and left her with a series of health conditions that mean she needs a half-hour rest after even the lightest of activity. "My life has completely changed," explains Tracey. "I used to be very active and outdoorsy person. Now I am pretty much housebound, and I rely on my family to do all the things I used to be able to do." Tracey Binnie, who is living with Long Covid, relies on her husband Steve and child Jay, 14, to help her when she's feeling fatigued. For the 40-year-old, Long Covid means constant fatigue, brain fog and muscle ache. She also has a lung condition for which she has to use an inhaler and is now on beta blockers after being diagnosed with PoTS – postural tachycardia syndrome, which is an abnormal increase in her heart rate after sitting up or standing. Tracey’s working life has also changed beyond all recognition. She ran a successful pet-sitting business and worked in the Citizens’ Advice Bureau as a contractor but falling ill with Covid-19 in March 2020 stopped that completely. Now she is working part-time as the Community Involvement Co-ordinator with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland to support people living with Long Covid - putting her personal experience into her work in facilitating a new peer support group as part of our Long Covid Support Service. Her new part-time role allows her to manage her condition and help others in the same situation. "I’ve had to adjust to big changes physically and mentally. But I’m fortunate that my GP has been very supportive. And the GP practice has done their very best to support me as well as they can with a novel condition created by a novel virus," she adds. "Many other people with Long Covid are not as fortunate. And that’s why it’s so important that more education is done with the medical profession. People need help and support because they are often very unwell, yet their symptoms often aren’t taken seriously." A coordinated approach This year, we have been working with the NHS and Scottish Government to create a coordinated nationwide care-pathway between the NHS, GPs and Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. In light of the most recent statistics, we're calling for the Scottish Government to accelerate efforts to integrate services and commit more resources to make sure the NHS can care for people with Long Covid. "We’ve taken the first step," explains Jane-Claire Judson. "Our Long Covid Support Service can help people manage symptoms like fatigue, breathlessness and provide support for mental wellbeing. It’s ready to take pressure off GPs and the NHS, but we need to be fully integrated with the health service to make the referral process easier so that people living with Long Covid feel supported from diagnosis right through to getting the long-term support they need to live well. "There’s a need for resources for the NHS too so that people can get the diagnosis and treatments that they desperately need. We need to see action on this now." GP Amy Small agrees with the need for this joined-up approach. She is living with Long Covid and was forced to give up her partnership due to her illness. Now she is working with us to promote and support the work of the Long Covid Support Service to ensure patients are receiving the right support. "I know first-hand how devastating living with Long Covid can be and how frustrating it is to feel like you have nowhere to turn," says GP Amy Small. In order for the NHS to provide the best care for patients in our communities, the Scottish Government must take action now. People shouldn’t be expected to wait any longer. "Help and support is available from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid Support Service. They have trained nurses with expert knowledge who can provide support, tailored to each patient’s needs. "When I’m speaking to patients suffering from Long Covid, it’s invaluable to me as a GP to have a service that I can confidently send them to, knowing that they’ll be given the help and support they need to manage their condition. "However, more still needs to be done for Long Covid care in Scotland. In order for the NHS to provide the best care for patients in our communities, the Scottish Government must take action now. People shouldn’t be expected to wait any longer." If you are living with Long Covid and need advice and support, please call Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid Advice Line on 0808 801 0899. You can also text NURSE to 66777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit chss.org.uk/longcovid to find out more.