The HSE should establish a dedicated health unit for research and to manage and support patients suffering the long-term effects of Covid-19, a Fine Gael TD has said.
Deputy Colm Burke, Fine Gael’s Health spokesperson, said “During the past year a lot has been learned about Covid and what are effective treatments. As knowledge of the disease continues to grow, a new aspect of the disease has been observed, which is described as Long-Covid.
“Some patients make a very slow recovery and for others a full recovery does not appear to be in sight. The symptoms of Long Covid may include chronic fatigue, joint pains, breathlessness, brain fog, lung damage, damage to other internal organs and disruption to the body’s regulatory systems.
“According to a recent study by medical scientists at King College London, more than 5pc of Covid patients continue to display symptoms lasting more than eight weeks.
“Planning by the HSE for the impact of Long Covid is now a matter of some urgency. This should include a dedicated health unit on Long Covid within the HSE.
“I understand that some hospitals have established post-Covid clinics to follow up with patients who need further care. But a network of clinics should be established to focus on research and treatment of the condition.
“To date more than 225,000 cases of Covid – 19 have been confirmed in Ireland and these figures continue to increase on a daily basis.
“If 5pc of patients suffer from Long Covid then the numbers suffering from the condition in Ireland may exceed 10,000 and as the number of infections continue to rise, so too will the number of those suffering from Long Covid.
“In particular, the HSE and private healthcare providers have a duty of care to healthcare workers who put their health and their lives on the line during the pandemic. During the past year more than 27,000 healthcare workers became infected with Covid. A full range of supports must now be put in place for healthcare workers suffering from Long Covid
“We now know that Covid – 19 may have long term negative health consequences for some people. This fact alone should be an incentive for everyone to maintain a high level of vigilance in the coming months.
“Doing so will save lives and keep many thousands of people free from a very serious disease. The vaccines are already having an impact on the trajectory of the virus. We will hopefully be in a much better place by June,” Deputy Burke concluded.