Long COVID has potential to place significant burden on our healthcare services

In Blog, Health, Science, Science by Denis Naughten

I asked my colleagues in the Oireachtas Library & Research Service to update a previous research paper that I received on long COVID to get an updated understanding of the definition, incidence, and healthcare issues surrounding long COVID.

The sad reality is that the symptoms of long COVID can not only last for months but even years and can include fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive dysfunction, and a wide range of other symptoms. As a result, long COVID can significantly impact people’s lives, affecting their ability to work, socialise, and enjoy their usual activities.

While the long-term impact of long COVID remains unknown because of the wide range of symptoms, these conditions can place a significant burden on our healthcare services, as they can lead to people needing more care and support.

While there is still a lot that we do not know about long COVID, and there is no single treatment, but a number of things can help manage the symptoms.

The HSE is implementing an Interim’ Model of Care’ for long-COVID, which includes self-directed, GP / primary and specialist care levels. However, the feedback I have received is that there are very mixed results from patient engagement with these clinicians. As a result, I’m now awaiting a response from the HSE regarding the plans to review this ‘Model of Care’ due to the recent HIQA – Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) Report on long COVID

The HIQA Report recommends that the HSE resource multi-disciplinary long COVID services, provide additional resourcing for existing services, and ensure equitable access to services across the Country.

But the sad reality is the HSE has yet to deliver on its commitment of September 2021 to establish and staff clinics for those suffering from long COVID conditions. We’ll wait and see!

Read the Oireachtas Library & Research Service long COVID report here:Long Covid Briefing Paper REVISED June_2023_756_Final