MPs urge health secretary to apologise to patients facing delays for care across UK
People suffering from long-term Covid symptoms are having to wait over 100 days for treatment, according to new figures, in what MPs have described as a “shameful postcode lottery” for care.
MPs have urged health secretary Matt Hancock to apologise over the delays after an investigation revealed that several of the “long Covid” clinics promised by the government do not appear to be up and running yet.
Die All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on coronavirus is calling for more funding to treat long Covid patients and end the disparities in care across the country.
The group’s investigation, based on Freedom of Information requests, found some patients were left waiting as long as 127 days for treatment after being referred to a local Covid clinic, while others only had to wait four days.
It also found that in several areas listed as providing clinics for long Covid patients, the facilities were still not up and running by 31 Maart 2021 – despite a government claim in January that a network of 69 clinics was already “operating” around the country.
Two of the trusts listed, Scarborough Teaching Hospital Trust and Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, told the APPG that there was no clinic operating or planned, while another five trusts said that a clinic was planned but not yet operational.
Lib Dem MP and APPG chair Layla Moran said the figures showed that Mr Hancock needed to make an urgent statement to parliament on the issue to clarify how many long Covid clinics have been set up and how many patients have been treated.
“These figures expose the shameful postcode lottery of care facing those suffering with long Covid,” Ms Moran said.
“Matt Hancock must come before parliament and clarify why it appears that some long Covid clinics are still not up and running, despite having been promised months ago.
“He should also personally apologise to long Covid patients who are having to wait months on end in pain for treatment.”
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that an estimated 1.1 million people are living with long Covid across the UK, of whom 674,000 said the condition affected their everyday life.
The APPG’s research found that, asof 31 Maart, 7,835 patients had been referred to long Covid clinics at the 19 trusts which provided data on referrals – an average of 412 per trust.
In October, Mr Hancock acknowledged that long Covid could have a “huge impact” on those affected as the government announced a network of clinics for the condition across England.
“We are doing everything we can to support people who are still suffering with effects on their health,” the Cabinet minister said.