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19 April 2021

New survey shows the harrowing long-term effects of Long Covid

A new survey by Asthma UK & British Lung Foundation Wales, in conjunction with Long Covid Wales, has found that people suffering from Long Covid face a huge range of symptoms for many months after catching the virus.

Long Covid is the term used to describe continued symptoms that develop as a result of catching Covid-19. 

Studies have shown that this condition is more wide-ranging than first thought, with women more likely to develop it and no two people having the same symptoms. 

The survey was aimed at people who’ve had Covid-19 in the past 15 months and sought to better understand the long-term health implications cause. The main findings are: 

  • Over 75% said it had impacted upon their work, exercise, and daily activities (such as housework), 
  • 60% said their symptoms were so severe they have not been able to work or have had to reduce their regular hours, 
  • Symptoms are wide-ranging but the most common are Fatigue, Brain Fog, and Shortness of Breath, 
  • 30% have not been formally diagnosed with the condition – despite discussing it with a healthcare professional, 
  • 33% have been directly turned away from accessing care. 

The survey also took a look at the situation faced by people suffering from Long Covid based upon where they lived and their local health board. Overall, it found that people faced a mixed bag when trying to access care with over 50% currently receiving no care

However, it also found that when people were able to access care, over 80% found that it was adequate to their needs – raising concerns about the pathway to treatment through which people with the condition go to access support. 

The data also seems to suggest that Aneurin Bevan Health Board currently has the best pathway for diagnosis of Long Covid, and that the nature of care received also varies hugely by Health Board. 

Commenting on the findings Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma UK & the British Lung Foundation Wales, said: 

“This survey clearly shows that when it comes to Long Covid there is still a long way to go to ensure everyone gets the support they need. What we know about this condition is changing quickly, so we must ensure our health services adapt to reflect the reality. 

“Far too many people are struggling to access even a diagnosis for the condition, never mind getting access to the care they need to get better. With a wide range of symptoms being reported we are concerned many people are going without treatment due to a failure to accurately diagnose the condition. 

“On top of this, our survey also found that people’s outcomes and access to support varies widely by Health Board. This highlights the urgent need for a joint-up approach to develop a distinct Long Covid pathway, so we can ensure no-one is being left behind without help. 

“We know that this condition affects every single aspect of a person’s life for many months after their first catch the virus. That’s why it’s vital we up our game and do more to support those living with this condition.” 

Georgia Walby, who helped establish Long Covid Wales after developing the condition early last year, added: 

“Like me, there are people all over Wales struggling with the effects of Long Covid. GPs are overburdened as it is and as the survey shows the GP referral system is failing many Long Covid sufferers. 

“People who have been ill for many months need healthcare quickly so that they can return to work. Many people are struggling financially due to being off work for so long and those who have reached one year of illness face losing their jobs now.  

“It’s a situation which needs urgent attention in order to reduce the ongoing suffering of so many people across Wales. Long COVID Wales is campaigning for specialist clinics, so that sufferers can get health concerns properly investigated and allow doctors to learn more about this disease.”