By Lucy Ashton
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP today challenged First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to use her statement to the Scottish Parliament to set out what will be done to help the 100,000 Scots with long Covid.
A parliamentary question from Mr Cole-Hamilton answered by the Health Secretary revealed that despite 100,000 Scots being diagnosed with long Covid, there have been just 1,157 referrals made to the support service offered by Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland. Despite this, the First Minister told Parliament: “there is no need to intervene”.
After Mr Cole-Hamilton, right, raised the issue in Parliament, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland said: “Our Long Covid Support Service is there to help people living with the most common symptoms, but as it stands GPs can’t refer to the service automatically… It’s a missed opportunity to create the wraparound service people with long Covid say the need – and we’re appealing for the Cabinet Secretary to help make urgent improvements.”
Speaking ahead of the statement, Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “Fewer than 1% of sufferers have been referred to the long Covid support service offered by Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, since it was announced by the First Minister a year ago.
“This is the principal government-funded service to help people with this debilitating condition.
“On Thursday the FM told me there was no need for her to intervene but Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland are pleading for the government to do things differently.
“The charity want to see the First Minister ensure that automatic referrals are put in place across the county so that sufferers don’t miss out. She should use her statement to announce those changes.
Picture: Vale of Leven Health Centre.