Post-COVID syndrome (long COVID)

What is Post-COVID syndrome/long COVID?

Emerging evidence and patient testimony is showing a growing number of people who contract COVID-19 cannot shake off the effects of the virus months after initially falling ill. Symptoms are wide-ranging and fluctuating, and can include breathlessness, chronic fatigue, “brain fog”, anxiety and stress.

The long-term effects of COVID-19 are often referred to interchangeably as long COVD and post COVID syndrome. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)/Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network/Royal College of General Practitioners guidance on managing long-term effects of COVID-19 (updated November 2021) gives the following clinical definitions below:

  • ongoing symptomatic COVID-19: signs and symptoms of COVID-19 from four to 12 weeks
  • post COVID-19 syndrome: signs and symptoms that develop during or after COVID-19 and continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis.

While we have learned lots about COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic – and new treatments are available – the long term effects of the illness can be debilitating, even for young, fit people, or those who did not go to hospital when they had COVID-19 symptoms initially.

If you are experiencing symptoms of long COVID please speak to your GP.

The NHS plan for improving long COVID services

The NHS plan for improving long COVID services provides an update on progress on the 10 actions set out in the NHS long COVID plan for 2021-22, and outlines the framework for deploying the £90m funding committed by the NHS for long COVID services during the 2022/23 financial year.

The plan has been developed with expert insights from those with lived experience of long COVID, clinicians and partners across the health and care system. It builds on the significant progress made over the past 2 years and sets out action to ensure support is there for everyone who needs it, and patients requiring specialist assessment and treatment can access care in a timely way.

NICE guidelines

NICE has issued official guidance on best practice for recognising, investigating and rehabilitating patients with long COVID. The guideline makes recommendations in a number of other key areas, including:

  • Assessing people with new or ongoing symptoms after acute COVID-19
  • Investigations and referral
  • Planning care
  • Management, including self-management, supported self-management, and rehabilitation
  • Follow-up and monitoring
  • Service organisation

The guideline also includes a number of key recommendations for research which will help inform and enhance future versions as evidence and practice develops.

Your COVID Recovery

Your COVID Recovery is one element of the five-part package of measures to boost NHS support for long COVID patients. It offers a digital, interactive and tailored recovery and rehabilitation programme that has been developed by experts to provide rehabilitation support for post COVID patients to manage their recovery at home.

The Your COVID Recovery online rehabilitation programme is available for systems to register as a service and access the training required to refer patients into the programme. Guidance on the platform has been published and you can register your service and request the training via: yourcovidrecovery@uhl-tr.nhs.uk

The public facing information website provides general information on all aspects of recovering from COVID-19 including physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing, advice on recovery and information for families and carers.

Post-COVID assessment services

The NHS has established 90 post COVID services, providing access to specialist diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.

These services offer an integrated multidisciplinary service including physical, cognitive and psychological assessments, diagnostic tests, and management or appropriate onward referral to post COVID rehabilitation, treatment and other support.

People who think they may be experiencing persistent or long-term effects of COVID-19 infection are advised to contact their GP, who will determine the appropriate course of action.

Post COVID assessment services are currently operating in the following organisations:

  1. East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust
  2. Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust
  3. Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust
  4. Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust
  5. Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust
  6. Herts Valley (Hemel Hempstead Hospital)
  7. Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  8. Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  9. Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust
  10. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust
  11. Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  12. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust
  13. London North West University Healthcare Trust
  14. St George’s University Hospitals Foundation Trust
  15. University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  16. Croydon Health Services NHS Trust
  17. Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust
  18. Kingston Hospital
  19. North East London Foundation Trust
  20. King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  21. Guys and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust
  22. East London Foundation Trust
  23. Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  24. Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  25. Shropshire Community Health NHS Trust
  26. The Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust
  27. The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust
  28. University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
  29. University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust
  30. Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust
  31. Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust
  32. South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust
  33. George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust
  34. Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  35. Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust and Nottingham CityCare Partnership
  36. Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust
  37. Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust
  38. Barnsley Healthcare Federation CIC
  39. Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
  40. County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
  41. Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust
  42. Humber Long COVID Triage and Assessment Service, hosted by City Healthcare Partnership, covering Hull University Teaching Hospital and North Lincolnshire and Goole
  43. Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust
  44. Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  45. North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
  46. North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
  47. Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
  48. Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  49. South Tees Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  50. The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  51. York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  52. Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust
  53. South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust
  54. Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust
  55. Kirklees Local Post COVID Assessment Clinic
  56. Doncaster Place
  57. The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust
  58. Bolton NHS Foundation Trust
  59. Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust
  60. Cheshire and Merseyside including, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, East Cheshire NHS Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Central Cheshire Integrated Care Partnership
  61. Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust
  62. Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
  63. Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
  64. Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust
  65. Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust
  66. Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust
  67. Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Central Surrey Health
  68. Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  69. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust
  70. First Community Health and Care CIC
  71. Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust
  72. Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  73. Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust
  74. Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  75. Surry Downs Health and Care Partnership
  76. Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust
  77. Isle of Wight NHS Trust
  78. Solent NHS Trust
  79. Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust
  80. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust
  81. Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust
  82. Sirona Health and Care
  83. Wiltshire Health and Care
  84. Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust
  85. Livewell South West, including University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, and Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust
  86. NHS Somerset CCG
  87. Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust
  88. Airedale NHS Foundation Trust
  89. South Worcestershire Primary Care
  90. Taurus Healthcare

Long COVID educational materials for clinicians

Long COVID is a new illness, which we are learning more about every day. The following is a list of resources that have been developed to help clinicians adapt to and learn about long COVID.