08 August 2022, 10:00
People in north east London are being urged to visit their GP if they suspect they may be suffering from Long Covid, so they can get the help and support they need.
Since June 2021, the number of people living with ongoing signs or symptoms more than 12 weeks after contracting COVID-19 has grown from 700,000 to 1.7 million; and 19% of those asked report significant limits on their activity. (Office for National Statistics.) 
Long Covid is diagnosed when these lasting symptoms cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis and the necessary tests have been completed to rule these out.
Specialist NHS help is available for people with Long Covid in Barking and Dagenham, City of London, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest. The first step is discussing your symptoms with your GP.
Dr Adam Ainley, Consultant Respiratory Physician at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust (BHRUT) and Long Covid lead for north east London, said:
“If you have symptoms, you may find there is an impact on your day-to-day activities, including the ability to work, resulting in a reduced quality of life. Therefore, it’s important to get the support you need.
“My advice for anyone who suspects they may have Long Covid would be to go and see your GP so you can be checked out. They will do a range of tests to see if the symptoms can be explained by any other illnesses or conditions.
“If these can be ruled out, you may be referred onto one of our Long Covid services where you can get the right physical and mental health support.”
Three information videos have been produced by the local NHS to help patients in north east London get the specialist support they need to help them recover: Long Covid symptoms – when should I get help?; The Long Covid clinic referral process and services offered; and The difference Long Covid services made to my care.
Long Covid is defined by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence as “signs and symptoms that develop during or after an infection consistent with COVID-19 and continue for more than 12 weeks and are not explained by an alternative diagnosis”.
Symptoms can vary from person to person and may fluctuate over time. They include:
Speaking about her experience of being treated at one of the local Long Covid clinics, Christine, a resident of north east London, said:
“I have tools that I’m using from the Long Covid clinic which have really helped me. My breathing is better, my body feels stronger and I have regained my confidence.”
“The clinic empowered me. It gave me the language and answers I needed to help myself.”
 Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK - Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)