More than 10,000 people in Northumberland struggling with long Covid

New figures suggest more than 10,000 people in the county are suffering with the long-term effects of coronavirus.

Around two million people across the UK are thought to have the condition, and the Long Covid SOS charity has called on the government to stop putting its "head in the sand" and take action.

The annual GP Patient Survey polled patients in thousands of practices across England between January and April on various aspects of their health – including 38 in the NHS Northumberland CCG area.

Patients were asked if they were still experiencing symptoms more than 12 weeks after they first had Covid-19, that could not be explained by something else.

The effects of long Covid can be debilitating.

Of the 3,972 respondents in Northumberland, 176 (4.4%) said they had symptoms of long Covid.

Applying this rate to the latest population estimate for the CCG area as a whole means 11,957 people aged 16 and over in the area could be suffering from lingering health problems.

Across England, 4.4% of GP patients said they had long Covid symptoms – which can include fatigue, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations – around two million people.

Long Covid SOS said this rate was higher than estimates by the Office for National Statistics, but it is also possible that many people may not be aware that they have it at all.

Ondine Sherwood, co-founder of the charity, said most sufferers are unable to obtain any meaningful treatment, and for many even that is not available due to lengthy waiting lists.

She added: "The government needs to acknowledge that this is a major issue impacting a significant proportion of the population and that it will lead to a massive burden of ill health on the NHS, on society and the economy.

"It needs to stop putting its head in the sand and start to act."

She said stricter infection control measures, more healthcare investment and increased research funding was needed.

The GP survey showed the vast majority (89.4%) of patients who responded to the survey in Northumberland said they did not have long Covid symptoms, but 5.7% said they were unsure and 0.5% preferred not to answer.

The Royal College of GPs said post-Covid syndrome was still a relatively new condition, but the prolonged health effects that some experience can have a huge impact on their lives.