Summary of report content
Healthwatch Enfield undertook research on the impact of long Covid on people’s lives and access to treatment. They undertook a survey, did interviews and community focus groups. 53 people took part.
Two thirds of respondents (66%) had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to experiencing Long COVID symptoms. Over two in five have been living with Long COVID for over year, while many others - who are close to this milestone are also likely to do so. A clear majority of respondents (92%) have received at least one vaccine dose.
Nearly nine in ten respondents cite an impact on their physical health, including tiredness and fatigue, a lack of energy and sleep, aches and pains, a loss of smell and taste, and inability to perform once routine tasks. Three quarters say their mental health has been affected. Many people describe feeling tense, anxious, nervous or depressed.
Over half of respondents (60%) feel they are less able to do the things they enjoy and 53% have difficulty in undertaking daily tasks, such as home chores. Over two in five experience problems with work. Some employees taking days off sick are fearful of facing ‘disciplinary action’
Just over half have consulted with health professionals. Of these, almost two thirds (62%) have been formally diagnosed – with diagnosis times ranging from less than one month (40%) and over four (also 40%). For those not seeking support from their GP, over half (52%) feel they were not a priority and 43% are not confident that their GP could help. Just 12% of respondents feel that their GP or clinician have ‘a great deal’ or ‘a lot’ of knowledge on the condition. Two in five have experienced difficulty in accessing healthcare support. A lack of information and follow-up is reported. Some also feel ‘a burden’. Just 2 respondents have been referred to receive support and just 2 are satisfied with the health service support offered.
Nearly four in five respondents have felt the need to conduct their own research. Self-management (such as exercise, pain relief and peer support) has been notably more effective than support from services.
The report contains two recommendations aimed at GPs.