Opposition parties call for action as ONS figures show rise in Scottish long Covid cases
Opposition parties have called on the Scottish Government to introduce clinics dedicated to long Covid sufferers after new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that cases are rising in Scotland but falling in England.
The ONS report, which was published today, shows that the estimated number of people living in Scottish households with self-reported cases of long Covid has increased by 18 per cent since June while in England the number has fallen by 17 per cent.
Similarly, the number of people in Scotland who have been experiencing symptoms for over a year has risen by 50 per cent in the past three months while in England the number has declined by 9 per cent.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton accused the SNP government of neglecting long Covid care and called for the creation of specialist clinics in every health board area as well as training for nurses to offer at-home support.
He also said specialist physiotherapy and other forms of rehab services should be made available to long Covid sufferers while a policy should be introduced to ensure no one is financially penalised for missing long periods of work due to Long Covid.
Noting that despite the ONS report saying 202,000 Scots are suffering from long Covid, Cole-Hamilton said that“when it comes to care and support their government is nowhere to be found”.
“The SNP and Greens have ignored their pleas for help and consistently neglected all those whose lives have thrown into disarray by the condition,” he said.
“Rates of long Covid are higher in Scotland than they are in England, Wales and Northern Ireland so the government cannot use the excuse that the demand for services is not there.
“The First Minister is devoting twice as much money to her efforts to break up the UK as she is to helping those people suffering long Covid.
“We need to see dedicated clinics across Scotland and a commitment to country-wide access to long Covid physiotherapy and multi-disciplinary rehab.”
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Dr Sandesh Gulhane agreed, saying that dedicated clinics are required as general practitioners need a “clearer pathway” to get patients the help they need.
“These alarming figures must act as a wake-up call to [health secretary] Humza Yousaf to stop dithering and act now,” he said.
“The ONS are clear that long Covid cases are rising in Scotland, on the SNP’s watch, while they are falling south of the border, where specialist clinics are up and running.
“The SNP health secretary has ignored repeated calls from sufferers and opposition politicians, like myself, to deliver the required funding for specialised long Covid clinics, which are already in operation in England. He can no longer ignore these calls in light of these figures.”
When parliament returned from recess last September Yousaf announced a £10m fund to help health boards support long Covid patients.
Gulhane said that as parliament returns next week “the suffering of long Covid patients must be a top priority for Humza Yousaf”.
In July Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie called on ministers to boost support for those living with long Covid, saying that “not enough has been done to ensure easy access to antivirals for those at highest risk, whilst those suffering from long Covid feel neglected”.