A group campaigning for people suffering from 'long Covid' has called on the Scottish Government to better support those living with long-term symptoms of coronavirus

Such symptoms can affect the respiratory system, the brain, cardiovascular system and heart, the kidneys, the gut, the liver and even skin - and are the focus of a new review by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

According to the review, there is an urgent need to understand the lived experience of people suffering from long Covid, as well as the "nature and duration of ongoing COVID".

Lesley Macniven is co-founder of the Long Covid Action Group Scotland, and suffers from long Covid.

The group, which aims to further rehab, research and recognition for Long Covid in Scotland, is now asking the Scottish Government to bring the NHS and third sector together to provide a national support service.

READ MORE: Patients die after catching Covid at Glasgow superhospital

She said: “There’s not one clear set of symptoms – people start to think they’re getting better and then they have a major setback.

“It’s really hard and as time goes on it’s harder to keep fighting back and be resilient.

“People are concerned they’re never going to get their jobs back or even their lives back again – it’s horrible.”

She added: “It’s really difficult to get out of bed everyday feeling like that.

“We need to move beyond recognition and make sure that support is available.

“We desperately need rehab and support in place to help us rebuild our lives.”

The NIHR review also suggests that diagnostic criteria for ongoing Covid-19 is lacking, and having a harmful impact on the efforts of treating long Covid.

They say more consensus needed between healthcare services, employers and government agencies.

Individuals will also face psychological and social impacts if the consequences are not managed, according to the review, suggesting "hospital one-stop clinics" and support within the community to be considered.

Dr. Elaine Maxwell, review author, Content Lead for the National Institute for Health Research’s Centre for Engagement and Dissemination said:

“This review highlights the detrimental physical and psychological impact that ongoing COVID is having on many people’s lives, and how healthcare services have at times struggled to manage these new and fluctuating patterns of symptoms and problems.

READ MORE: Scottish care homes breaching Covid safety and human rights

“Our aim is that healthcare services and staff will use this review to better understand the experiences patients have to deal with, and provide them with the access to treatment, care and support they need.

“While research is at an early stage, listening to the testimony of people living with the ongoing effects of Covid19 provides rich insights into where we should focus future research, as well as the services we should be commissioning now.”

Earlier this month, the NHS in England announced a £10 million package to support people with long Covid, including specialist clinics.

Jane-Claire Judson, chief executive at Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, said: “People’s lives have been turned upside down by Long Covid.

“They are struggling to breathe, walk to their end of their street and some people have felt almost bed bound for months.

“Whether you have spent time in hospital or not, people can need support for months after the initial Covid infection.”

She added: “England have made positive progress but we have a chance to do something even better in Scotland – bringing together health professionals and charities to provide a seamless package of care.

“We need to see a full national support service for long Covid in Scotland.

“People don’t have time to wait. They need help now.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are already taking action to support those experiencing the longer physical and mental health impacts of Covid-19 and recognise that rehabilitation, clinical input and research are all critical to understanding and supporting recovery.

“That is why on October 5 the Chief Scientist Office launched a further call for Scottish-led research into this important issue.

“We have also published a framework for supporting people through recovery and rehabilitation during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, which puts in place clear principles, priorities and objectives to support planning to meet increasing demand and to provide high-quality person-centred rehabilitation in different settings.”

The NIHR and UKRI have also announced that they will be advertising a joint research call in late October, for projects starting in the New Year.

The primary aim of the call will be to fund ambitious and comprehensive research into the longer term, physical and mental effects, of COVID-19 in non-hospitalised individuals.