CSP gives cautious welcome to NICE 'long Covid' guidance

The CSP has expressed concerns that a newly-published NICE guideline on managing the long-term effects of Covid-19 (‘long Covid’) does not completely address the rehabilitation needs of recovering patients.

The guideline, produced by NICE along with the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), covers the care of people with symptoms that develop during or after Covid-19 that continue for more than four weeks. Its recommendations for healthcare professionals include using shared decision making to agree with the person what support and rehabilitation they need and how this will be provided.

The CSP was involved as a stakeholder in the development of the guideline and, when commenting on earlier drafts, highlighted gaps in the rehabilitation elements. CSP assistant director Ruth ten Hove said: ‘While the published guidance is relatively comprehensive, it still doesn’t do enough to connect people with long Covid to the right services to meet their needs.

'There are significant gaps relating to the rehabilitation needs of this cohort, with common treatments such as pulmonary rehabilitation, re-conditioning and fatigue management being overlooked, and a lack of detail on patient pathway development, MDT and self–management.

‘The guideline risks adding more steps to the patient pathway - delaying access to much-needed rehabilitation. The rehabilitation component of the guideline needs developing further by experts currently delivering Covid rehab, so that the pathways are clearly described and as effective as possible.’

NICE's publication also emphasises the need to address health inequalities in care for people experiencing ongoing symptoms, and makes a number of additional recommendations. NICE has said that the guideline ‘will be adapted as new evidence emerges’.

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