The HSE has said it is “difficult to provide precise timelines” as to when long Covid clinics established in hospitals would become fully operational.
The Executive was responding to a query from the Oireachtas Library and Research Service, for the latter’s paper on long Covid and its implications for the Irish health service.
The HSE developed an interim model of care for long Covid in September 2021.
A programme manager and clinic leads representing the areas of neurology, respiratory medicine, infectious disease, and rehabilitation have been appointed to drive implementation of this model of care, according to the HSE’s response on 22 January 2022.
The HSE stated that post-acute and long Covid clinics have been developed at hospitals across the country to provide follow-up care for patients experiencing prolonged symptoms of Covid-19.
These clinics have been established to address the presenting local need at individual hospital sites.
Implementation of the model of care will focus on the expansion of existing post-acute and long Covid clinics, in addition to the establishment of new clinics as identified within the model.
“There will be a total of 14 clinics and each Hospital Group will have access to both post-acute and long Covid clinics,” according to the HSE’s response.
“The allocation of new and additional resources to these clinics will ensure that all services are operating to the same high standard of care. A variety of disciplines will need to be recruited to support these clinics, therefore it is difficult to provide precise timelines for when these clinics will become fully operational. The implementation team is working with hospital sites to identify gaps in current resources and to drive recruitment.”
Pathways linking with GPs and community services will evolve once these have been established, according to the HSE.
The Oireachtas Library and Research Service document, which was published at the end of January, is entitled Long Covid: Definition, incidence, and healthcare issues.
It noted that while the HSE Winter Plan 2021-22 stated that long Covid was among the risks to effective healthcare delivery, no greater detail on the issue was provided.
Using the official figure of Covid-19 cases and the estimate from the literature, the document estimated the number of people in Ireland who have had Covid-19 and who are/will experience long Covid is 114,500 at a minimum .
The figure is based on case data on 24 January 2022 and rising in proportion to Covid-19 case numbers as infections continue.
“This is a rough estimate, not supported by any specific Irish data,” according to the document.