The Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust, in association with the Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust (BHFT) and the Berkshire West Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) have set up the Berkshire Long Covid Integrated Service (BLIS) for patients who are continuing to suffer from post-COVID syndrome (Long Covid).
This service started in November 2020 and is being provided by a multidisciplinary team of GPs, consultants, physiotherapists and psychologists. We aim to provide an integrated assessment and management plan for patients struggling with symptoms of Long Covid.
What is Long Covid?
In most patients, we had anticipated that an acute episode of COVID-19 infection would recover within three weeks. Long Covid (also known as Post-COVID syndrome) is the name that's been given to the condition present in up to 10% of patients after they have recovered from the acute infection of COVID-19. The symptoms of Long Covid can be present for number of months and can often be confusing and worrying for patients, especially if the acute infections has not been severe enough to need hospitalisation.
When these signs and symptoms are present for more than 12 weeks after the acute episode, we are calling them Long Covid. These symptoms can often overlap and have been known to change overtime and can affect many systems within the body.
The most common symptoms have been pain, fatigue, shortness of breath, palpitations and raised heart rate, persisting high temperature, sore throat, altered smell, dizziness, loss of appetite, new psychological issues like anxiety and depression, confusion, memory problems (commonly called brain fog) along with tummy symptoms have all known to be present.
Could you be helped by this service?
At this time the service is open to any patients (paediatric or adult) who may have Long covid and have been struggling with symptoms for more than 12 weeks.
This applies to patients who have may have been very unwell in the hospital following a COVID-19 infection and also for those patients who have stayed at home and did not need hospitalisation during the acute infection but are still continuing to struggle due to the symptoms.
We would highlight that this service will be mainly focused on assessing these patients to identify any serious issues and then signposting them to available resources in the community. There are plans to provide some advice on rehabilitation/psychological support and fatigue and pain management strategies using various electronic media.
How to get referred
If you think you may be suffering from the symptoms of Long Covid as detailed above, then in order to be referred to this service, your GP will have to fill out an electronic referral form following which you will be sent a questionnaire from the BLIS.
Once you have filled the questionnaire out and returned it via smartphone app/ email or post , you will be then sent for any further investigations as needed and then invited to have a face to face assessment with the team.
For further information
Please contact your GP for further information and referral details. You can also download a leaflet about the service.
This service is presently located within the Pain Management Unit in the Royal Berkshire Hospital, behind the Jamaica Blue coffee shop in South Block.
At this time, clinics are being held every Monday with the multidisciplinary team of various therapists and consultants. They can offer a remote or face to face consultation with all safety arrangements in place. They will be able to offer a full assessment of your physical and mental health with blood tests and any further investigations and then offer a management plan or appropriate referral to other specialties as required.