Patients with long Covid face delays in accessing specialist clinics

People with long-term Covid-19 illnesses are struggling with long delays in booking appointments at specialist clinics due to the ongoing difficulties hospitals are having in recruiting staff, it was revealed yesterday.

The issue was highlighted by Sinn Féin TD John Brady, who is living with symptoms of the condition and has been waiting to be seen at the long-running Covid clinic at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin since June following a referral from his GP.

Over the summer, it emerged that by that time only 20 of the 60 staff slated to work across disciplines in long-Covid and post-acute Covid clinics in 10 hospitals across the country had been hired.

Mr Brady said he first contracted Covid in 2020 and developed a severe cough.

He said a GP was “at a loss as to what to do” and he was “sent for X-rays and given inhalers and cough bottles” which didn’t work.

The Wicklow TD said St Vincent’s Hospital recently told patients it may not be able to see everyone who has been referred to the long Covid clinic.

“However, your GP can also refer you to the appropriate local specialist via their health pathway,” the hospital added.

A spokeswoman said her long-running Covid clinic has a four-month wait for a routine patient referral.

“All patients referred to the clinic are screened, with urgent referrals being given an appointment within a month,” she added.

There are currently 210 patients referred to the clinic awaiting their first appointment.

A Tallaght Hospital spokeswoman said a routine appointment can take five months and urgent referrals are being considered on a case-by-case basis.

It has a waiting list of 286 new patients waiting to be seen.

The spokeswoman said: “We are still hiring a cardiac physiologist, a medical doctor, an occupational therapist and an assistant psychologist.

“However, clinics are fully staffed as managers support this new service under the current supplement while recruitment continues.”

A number of clinics also exist in hospitals outside of Dublin.

Galway University Hospitals said it operates a multidisciplinary clinic that will function as a combined post-Covid and long-Covid centre.

The clinic treats patients hospitalized with Covid-19 after being discharged.

It also sees those with symptoms of Long Covid Syndrome.

A spokesman for University Hospital Limerick said the HSE had put in place an interim model for long-Covid care.

As part of this model, clinics are provided for both long-term Covid and post-acute Covid care.

It has set up a working group to oversee the development of these clinics and the associated treatment pathways.

A consultant has been identified to lead the implementation of these clinics and a number of additional posts are needed to work on.

There are around 20 patients on the waiting list at University Hospital Limerick for the long Covid clinic.

Professor Jack Lambert, of Dublin’s Mater Hospital – which is not one of the designated centers – has long run a Covid clinic in his spare time and is looking for means to keep it running.

Prof Lambert has pointed to evidence he has seen to highlight that many of the symptoms that persist in long Covid are linked to brain and immune system dysfunction.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/patients-with-long-covid-face-delays-in-getting-access-to-specialist-clinics-42022263.html Patients with long Covid face delays in accessing specialist clinics

Fry Electronics Team

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