One year on, just one third of long Covid staff recruited – Naughten

In Health, News, Posts by Topic by Denis Naughten

Just one third of the staff needed to manage patients with long Covid have been recruited to specialist clinics, 12 months after these specific clinics were promised by the Minister for Health, says Denis Naughten TD

“Earlier this month, I received a response from the HSE to a Dáil question to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, which shows that just 22.5 WTE posts have been filled out of 70 posts needed to operate 14 specialist long Covid centres across the country,” continued Denis Naughten.

Symptoms of long Covid include fatigue and brain fog, which are experienced at least three months after the initial infection for significant periods of time, in some cases over two years.

“With clinics in Letterkenny, Galway, Limerick and Beaumont Hospitals having failed to fill any of the posts allocated by the HSE, and just one of the St. James Hospital clinics in Dublin having a full compliment of staff, it is clear that this issue is not getting the priority that it needs,” Denis Naughten pointed out.

“Despite commitments given by the HSE and Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to monitor research developments associated with this illness, the long Covid clinics have only altered the medical specialities across all 14 centres to include an additional psychiatrist (a 0.5WTE post allocated to Cork University Hospital and another 0.5WTE post allocated to St. James Hospital, Dublin).  This clearly contradicts the growing body of research indicating that the long-term challenge of the condition will be focused on neurological issues.

“A research paper which I commissioned over the summer from the Oireachtas Library & Research Service clearly indicates it is not just cardiac and respiratory issues that long Covid patients are experiencing but many are facing neurological issues as well,” stated Denis Naughten.

“This research is supported in correspondence to me from the Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and the HSE on the need to recruit neurological consultants to treat people with long Covid.

“Despite the medical research the HSE has only recruited one neurologist based at St James Hospital, Dublin, to manage such issues for long Covid patients throughout the country. And clearly the review of medical specialities across all 14 centres has culumated with the addition of just one full psychiatrist post.

“Based on an analysis that I performed there are 336,451 adults nationally who are likely to be suffering from some of the 200 medical conditions associated with long Covid.

“These figures are based on research published earlier this month in The Lancet by a team of researchers in the Netherlands who have attributed long Covid symptoms to 12.7% of patients infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and research on blood donors published by Ireland’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which indicates that 69% of adults in Ireland have been infected by the virus.

“If even a small proportion of the 336,451 adults with long Covid present at GP surgeries and are referred on for medical tests at our hospitals, it will significantly add to the already record breaking 625,000 outstanding outpatient appointments and will no doubt contribute to the record numbers on trolleys in hospital this month,” concluded  Denis Naughten


Long Covid clinic recruitment Oct 22 (002)

Long Covid recruitment July 22

Response from Minister Donnelly



13th October 2022

Dear Deputy Naughten

I refer to your question to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin regarding Long COVID which was forwarded to my office for response.


COVID-19 is a new disease so information on it, its features, incidence and its course are still emerging. The natural history, clinical course and consequences of COVID19 are still not completely understood


As you are aware, the HSE has developed an interim Model of Care to provide Long COVID services nationally. This interim Model of Care is being implemented, building on existing service provision, in addition to establishing new services across GP, community services and acute hospitals, to ensure a national service is in place for all who need it.  The first priority is to ensure there are Long COVID and Post-Acute COVID clinics operating within each Hospital Group to ensure a national service.

Recruitment of the personnel associated with each of the clinics is ongoing and includes consultants in the area of infectious diseases, respiratory medicine, neurology and additional multi-disciplinary staff to support the work of these clinics. There is a planned tertiary Neurocognitive Clinic in St James’s Hospital, led by a Consultant Neurologist with background in Neurocognitive Disorders, that will be accepting referrals from Long Covid clinics around the country.

As you know, the current Model of Care is an interim one, and services and supports may need to adapt and expand based on learnings from implementation, emerging evidence in relation to Long COVID and current and projected demand for all specialists and services.

The HSE has commissioned a review of the evidence regarding Long Covid, including Models of Care in other jurisdictions from the Health Information and Quality Authority. This, along with additional research that will be conducted by the HSE, will inform the development of services and a review of the current Interim Model of Care.

The Department of Health, through the Health Research Board, continues to fund research into the clinical impacts of COVID-19.

I trust this information will be of assistance to you.


‎Yours sincerely,

Stephen Donnelly T.D.

Minister for Health