The HSE has recruited a programme manager for a long Covid care model, a spokesperson has informed the Medical Independent (MI).
A draft HSE paper on long Covid, dated June 2021, sets out total indicative costs of €6,698,451 for the implementation of seven “post-acute Covid-19 clinics”, six “long Covid clinics” and an epidemiological survey. The paper outlines seven principles for the establishment of a long Covid service, the first of which was the “need to rapidly establish a national service for those that require specialist follow-up post-Covid (<12 weeks) and patients that develop long Covid (>12 weeks)”.
It also states that estimating the population need was “challenging”, but to direct resources to meet demand “we need to model demand based on current best available knowledge, case incidence of Covid-19, and geographic need”.
“Recruiting new staff will be required, however, this can be challenging and will take a considerable amount of time,” adds the paper. Referral pathways for GPs would need to be “clearly defined”.
As of May, the paper estimated the number of people with long Covid symptoms who had had their disease managed in the community (13,428), hospital wards (1,297) and intensive care (207). It also estimated the numbers with “post-acute symptoms”, which
was put at 6,016 people whose disease had been managed in the community, 728 people who had been treated on hospital wards and 108 people who had needed intensive care.
The HSE’s spokesperson said there was “a lot of uncertainty in the international literature about how many people experience prolonged symptoms so it is extremely difficult to determine the scale as yet in Ireland.
“However, we are monitoring the situation very closely and looking at how we can best estimate the scale; this will take some time and will need continual review…. The HSE has been in touch with and will be engaging with a group of people who are suffering post-Covid symptoms.”
In regard to care pathways, the spokesperson said “people who have had Covid-19 are being followed-up by their doctors as appropriate. This is usually their GP and in the case of those who required hospitalisation and/or ICU admission, this is hospital-based.”
MI understands that this care was provided under existing resourcing and funding.
“Guidance is being developed to align needs with care provision and to develop criteria and strategies for the ongoing evaluation of patients. There is a range of supports available in general practice and in the hospital setting, and we are working on further developing those supports,” according to the Executive.