Impacts of long Covid for north east Londoners laid bare in new report

A woman passing a mural of a frontline worker in Dublin

The survey collated feedback from 169 respondents, 44 per cent of whom had been diagnosed with long Covid - Credit: PA

Finding life less enjoyable and struggling to take part in hobbies are among the impacts of long Covid among north east londoners, according to a new survey. 

Compiled by Healthwatch Redbridge, Havering and Barking and Dagenham, in collaboration with the North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) long Covid clinic and the North East London Clinical Commissioning Group (NEL CCG), the survey was designed to understand better the impact of long Covid on local residents. 

Presented to Havering Council’s people overview and scrutiny sub-committee last week (July 20), the report outlines key findings and recommendations to develop services in this area. 

Of the 169 people who responded to the survey, 87 per cent tested positive for Covid, with 44pc diagnosed with long Covid. 

Fifty pc of respondents said their ability to work had been affected and 93pc said life had become less enjoyable. 

In addition, a majority said hospital and community-based services had not been helpful (54pc), with a similar number saying the same about primary care services. 

Ian Buckmaster, a director at Healthwatch Havering who presented the report, told councillors at the meeting: “What we found in this survey was that too many people had consequences that were not properly addressed." 

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Points raised included a lack of awareness around long Covid clinics among residents, what lessons could be taken forward from the survey and the role of GP services, given respondents said they were almost twice as likely to seek self-help than consult a GP. 

Cllr Christine Smith queried if this was due to the number of GP surgeries being closed: “Do you think that’s added to why GPs didn’t pick it up? A lot of GPs closed completely, nobody could get an appointment, or you spoke to somebody over the phone.

"It’s a bit like, ‘oh, I’ve got a bad hip’, how can you show someone over the phone?” 

Mr Buckmaster said that “without a shred of doubt, that is one of the factors". 

"People were afraid that they might be disbelieved, so they wouldn’t bother.” 

Mr Buckmaster added that the survey will likely be re-run in about a year’s time, to see what improvements have been made following the report’s findings.