Article By: Claire McKim - READ ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Long Covid sufferer Brighid Ó Dochartaigh, a 47-year-old geologist from Edinburgh, knows first-hand the devastating impact the condition can have on people’s lives.
A 47-year-old geologist from Edinburgh warns she is still unable to walk long distances, eight months after she was diagnosed with Covid-19.
Brighid Ó Dochartaigh used to spend days at a time outdoors before she was struck down by the deadly virus.
Now she wants to warn others of the devastating impact the illness has had on her life.
It comes as health professional bodies in Scotland have joined together with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland to urge the Scottish Government to take action and improve care for people living with Long Covid.
In an open letter published in today’s Times newspaper, they back the charity’s calls for the Scottish Government to introduce a National Long Covid Support Service to help patients that are living with the devastating effects of the condition.
Other signatories of the letter include Royal College of Nursing Scotland, Queens Nursing Institute Scotland, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Scotland, Scottish Stroke Allied Health Professions Forum and Royal College of Occupational Therapists who all support the need for a structured approach to caring for people living with Long Covid.
Brighid said: "Before Covid, I was healthy and fit - my work often calls for strenuous field work & travel to remote places round the world.
“Now I struggle to walk more than three blocks from home. My GPs are very supportive but admit they don't know enough about Long Covid to know what's causing my symptoms or how long they might last, and there doesn't seem to be any treatment.
“Like most Long Covid sufferers, I'm left to manage this life changing illness at home, alone. No-one can tell us if we'll recover. I just want my old life back - to be healthy, able to work, run, swim, visit my friends and family, but I'm scared that won't happen. My employer has been really supportive, but that can't last forever - I don't know what I'll do if I don't get well enough to be able to work again.”
“People’s lives have been turned upside down by Long Covid. Their stories of feeling alone, invisible and incredibly frustrated at the lack of coordinated care are a call for help that should not be ignored”, the group said in the letter."
Jane-Claire Judson, Chief Executive of Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: "No one should fight something like Long Covid alone. But that is exactly what's happening across Scotland right now. In England the NHS are investing in specific clinics, while here we still have people reduced to tears trying to get help. We can and must do better than this.
“Long Covid could happen to any one of us. One day you could be enjoying life and then you get Covid and everything changes. Months after a Covid infection, people who were once healthy are now struggling to walk to the end of their road or are almost bed bound. They desperately need help but say they feel abandoned, misunderstood and almost invisible.
"It can’t be right that people are facing an exhausting fight to get help on top of everything else they are going through.
“We know that the NHS is under pressure but by working with us there is a way forward. We need to see action from the Scottish Government to establish a National Long Covid Support Service which would bring the NHS and charities together to provide care for people with Long Covid.
“We need to see specialist one-to-one clinics, based on the model adopted in England and we must help people to manage the impact of Long Covid on their lives and mental wellbeing. It is vital that everyone gets the support they need to rebuild their lives.”
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland launched a campaign yesterday urging people to take action by emailing their MSPs to join the charities Long Covid Care Now Campaign. Anyone wishing to join the campaign and email their MSP should sign up here www.chss.org.uk/longcovidcarenow