Long COVID in Newham and Tower Hamlets
Long COVID services for residents in Newham and Tower Hamlets
The number of people with COVID-19 symptoms that are lasting more than 12 weeks is increasing, so we are making sure we provide the information that patients, their family and their friends need.
Patients living in Tower Hamlets and Newham, who are experiencing symptoms associated with Long COVID (outlined below), will benefit from a range of support services which are now available.
What is Long COVID?
It is estimated that one in 10 people who contract COVID-19 have ongoing symptoms for 12 weeks or longer. 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.
Being diagnosed with Long COVID does not seem to be linked to how ill you were when you first got the virus. As this is a new condition, lots of research is being done to better understand what causes it and how to help people living with it.
Symptoms can vary a lot, fluctuate over time and may have an impact on your ability to do day-to-day activities. There are many symptoms of Long COVID, the most common are:
- Extreme tiredness
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle ache
- Difficulty concentrating/memory loss/confusion
- Loss of smell or taste
- Trouble sleeping
- Fast heart rate
What to do if experiencing these symptoms
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing Long COVID, please contact your GP. Your GP will firstly want to discuss your symptoms with you in more detail. They may want to take your blood pressure, check your pulse rate, listen to your chest and check your oxygen levels. Your GP may also do a blood test or send you for other investigations such as a chest x-ray or heart scan. Depending on the outcome of these tests your GP may then refer you to the Long COVID Service.
To be eligible for a referral to the Long COVID service you and your GP must have completed the necessary tests to rule out other diagnoses, you must be 18 years and above and have a GP Practice within Tower Hamlets or Newham.
For patients living outside of these boroughs in north east London, please contact the links below to find out services local to you:
Barking and Dagenham: https://www.nelft.nhs.uk/information-and-advice-on-long-covid
City and Hackney: https://www.homerton.nhs.uk/covid-recovery-and-rehabilitation
Waltham Forest: https://www.nelft.nhs.uk/information-and-advice-on-long-covid
Patients need to be referred into the Long COVID Service by their GP. This service does not take self-referrals in the way other services might.
What is the Tower Hamlets and Newham Long COVID Service?
The Long COVID Service is a multi-disciplinary service specifically set-up to support patients experiencing symptoms of Long COVID.
The team is made up of the following members:
- Occupational Therapists
- General Practitioners
- Rehabilitation Support Workers
- Psychologically Trained Staff
- Administrative Staff
If you are referred and accepted by the Long COVID Service you can expect a telephone assessment with one of the above clinicians to further discuss your symptoms. These assessments typically last between 30-45 minutes and you will be asked to discuss your symptoms as well as the impact these are having on everyday life.
Following the assessment, the clinician will discuss your symptoms with other members of the team to collectively agree the most appropriate way to support you.
How can I be supported?
Support for Long COVID depends on the symptoms you are experiencing and the impact on your day-to-day life. The Long COVID Service may suggest:
- Onward referrals to other organisations or services which may be able to support you
- Rehabilitation support which is currently being set-up by the Long COVID service including group-based intervention
- Support in the community including things such as support with finances and living a healthy lifestyle
- Access to self-management material allowing patients to support themselves.
https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/ - Helps patients to understand what has happened and what they might expect as part of their recovery. Has a range of information on how to stay well such as eating and sleeping well, getting moving again and managing daily activities.
https://www.longcovid.org/ - A patient support group with a range of information and patient stories.
https://covidpatientsupport.lthtr.nhs.uk/ - Lancashire COVID Patient Support is a resource that has been developed by a group of health professionals at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals. The purpose of the website is to support individuals with their initial recovery from COVID-19. It includes a range of exercises, advice and tips.
https://www.post-covid.org.uk/ - For people left with breathing difficulties after COVID-19, as well as their family members and carers.
https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus/how-will-i-recover-if-ive-had-coronavirus - Advice from the British Lung Foundation including what to do If you are breathless or need to clear your lungs.
https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-work-pensions national help and advice about benefits, support if you are self-employed or looking for work
Clean Slate - Clean Slate is a not for profit Community Interest Company, that exists to support people with their money, with employment and with getting online. Clean Slate are funded to work with JCPs across East London to help claimants who are struggling financially. We will provide support for up to 12 weeks. (JCPs across East London). Visit https://www.cleanslate.org.uk/
Christians Against Poverty - always hope. Christians Against Poverty (CAP) provides free debt help and local community groups across the UK. The free services, run with local churches, provide practical and emotional support and show people that there is always hope. (JCPs across East London) (capuk.org)
Step Change - Hundreds of thousands of people come to us for help every year. Some are at crisis point and many don't see a way out. We help them to find a way out of their debt problems. www.stepchange.org
Citizens Advise Bureau – Available across Newham and Tower Hamlets. Citizens Advice is an independent organisation specialising in confidential information and advice to assist people with legal, debt, consumer, housing and other problems in the United Kingdom. Newham: https://www.eastendcab.org.uk/newham/; Tower Hamlets: https://www.eastendcab.org.uk/tower-hamlets/
The Turn2us helpline - Our helpline is free, confidential and independent. We give support and information to people who don't have access to the internet or find it hard going online. Call on: 0808 802 2000, 9.00 am - 5.00 pm Mondays-Fridays.
Money advice Service - If you’re struggling with debt, it can be hard to know where to turn. But with lots of free advice services available across the UK, you can find help in a way that’s best for you. www.moneyhelper.org.uk
North East London resources
https://www.homerton.nhs.uk/covid-recovery-and-rehabilitation - A one-stop-shop of patient information from Homerton Hospital. This includes tiredness management, exercise and nutritional advice.
Post Covid information pack for patients covering:
- Managing eating and COVID
- Managing tiredness
- Managing Breathlessness
This animation will inform you about COVID, how to measure your oxygen levels (using a pulse oximeter), what the danger signs to look out for are and when to seek urgent help.
https://www.malnutritionpathway.co.uk/covid19 - An overview with useful information for patients and carers. Endorsed by the British Dietetic Association (BDA), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the British Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (BAPEN)
Dealing with fatigue
Useful advice and information on rehabilitation from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists
Recovering from COVID-19: Post viral-fatigue (tiredness) and conserving energy – advice from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists
https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/managing-the-effects/effects-on-your-body/fatigue/ - NHS advice on what you can do if you are suffering from tiredness
Mental Health services
Newham: Call Talking Therapies on 020 8475 8080 or visit www.newhamtalkingtherapies.nhs.uk. Also contact the Newham Mental Health Crisis Line on freephone 0800 073 0066.
- Tower Hamlets: Call Talking Therapies on 020 8475 8080 or visit https://towerhamletstalkingtherapies.nhs.uk/). You can also call the Tower Hamlets Mental Health Crisis Line on freephone 0800 073 0003.
You can also access a whole range of online resources from Thrive LND on their Good Thinking website.
Support if someone close to you has died
The government has produced some support for those that have lost loved ones which contains Information to help families, friends or next of kin make important decisions. This has been translated into a number of different languages.
Thrive LND has put together an information pack to support you if you are grieving the sudden death of someone close to you, or if you are supporting someone going through sudden bereavement.
North East London commissioners have also produced a series of guidance packs to support people through the bereavement process, which is made even more challenging during the pandemic. There are three guides available, as follows:
How to prepare for the death of a friend or relative: helps people understand what to expect when someone is near the end of their life, provides tips on practical care and information on where to go for further support.
What to do if a friend or relative dies: provides practical advice on areas such as arranging a funeral, looking after an individual’s personal affairs and caring for their pets.
Where to go for bereavement support: a list of organisations for people to reach out for support at any stage of the grieving process. It includes national, local and specialist organisations, along with contact details.