NHS England has announced the creation of a coronavirus recovery service to support survivors experiencing long-term effects from the virus.
Announced on the 72nd birthday of the NHS, this new branch of NHS England will support “tens of thousands” of people who experience both mental and physical effects of the virus, such as lung scarring, breathing issues or mental health problems including PTSD.
The service, entitled Your Covid Recovery, will treat both patients who suffered from coronavirus in hospital and at home.
Patients will be offered a face-to-face consultation with a rehabilitation team, usually including physiotherapists, nurses and mental health specialists and those who need further treatment will be given a personalised care package including 12 weeks of “online-based aftercare”.
The aftercare will include access to a local clinical team including nurses and physiotherapists who can respond to concerns via phone or online, and an online peer-support community for survivors.
It will also include exercise tutorials for survivors to “regain muscle strength and lung function in particular” while at home, and mental health support, such as access to a psychologist via an online hub, referral to NHS mental health services and access to information about recovery.
If people are unable to access online services, printed materials will be offered, NHS England said.
The first phase of the Covid Recovery Service will launch later this month, offering advice on recovering from the virus. The second phase, providing personalised support packages, is in development by “experts” in Leicester, and will be launched in late summer.
Announcing the launch of the service on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning, the NHS chief executive, Sir Simon Stevens, said coronavirus was “a legacy which will be with us for years to come”.
In a statement issued on the NHS website, Stevens described the virus as “the biggest challenge in the NHS’ history”.
He said many survivors would experience “significant ongoing health problems” including breathing difficulties, enduring tiredness, reduced muscle function, impaired ability to perform vital everyday tasks and mental health problems such as PTSD, anxiety and depression.
“The fact that we have come through the first peak without services being overwhelmed and being able to give expert care to everyone who needed it, is testament all our frontline and support staff,” he said.
“Now, as we celebrate the birthday of the NHS and look ahead to the next phase of our response, while in-person care will continue to be vital, the health service is embracing the best that new technology can offer us to meet the significant level of new and ongoing need.”
Prof Sally Singh, who is leading from University Hospitals of Leicester NHS in partnership with national clinical leaders to develop the second phase of the service, said the impact of coronavirus could be “far reaching and complex”.
“Your Covid Recovery is specifically designed to support people in their recovery post-coronavirus. This will be one of the first sites in the world rolled out nationally seeking to address potential post-Covid symptoms and support people on the road to recovery,” she said.
“We have brought together a wide range of experts representing a number of professional societies who have made valuable contributions to the site, to allow us to have a comprehensive package of information and advice. Importantly we have worked with people with first-hand experience of Covid to help shape the site and make sure the content was fit for purpose.”