A Scot suffering from long Covid is hopeful a pilot scheme under one health board will prevent fellow patients from "falling through the cracks". 

NHS Lothian is the first Scottish health board where patients will be referred direction to a support service run by Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland (CHSS). 

With the help of a new digital platform, MyTailoredTalks, GPs will be able to automatically direct their patient towards support services available and to provide tailored self-management information to patients.

More than 70 patients across 26 GP practices are taking part in the scheme. 

Greig Brown, 44, has been hospitalised twice since contracting Covid-19 in January 2021. 

READ MORE: Record number of Scots hit by long Covid - including 10,000 children

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Long covid symptoms including severe breathing difficulties and memory loss have prevented him from returning to his job as a joiner at St John's Hospital in Livingston. 

Mr Brown, who lives in Armadale, West Lothian has had to postpone plans to his partner Sam, as they have been forced to use their savings while the 44-year-old has not been able to return to work. 

He hopes the pilot platform will "make a real difference to everyone living with Long Covid symptoms.”

“I feel as if people like me have fallen through the cracks," he said. 

“This is my reality. I am so breathless and exhausted every day that simply getting downstairs and settled on the couch wipes me out. 

“I used to walk miles every day around the hospital, carrying tools and anything else I needed. Now I can’t even walk to the kitchen without needing to sit down. 

“My GPs kept telling me Long Covid is all new to them, too, and they don’t know how to treat it."

So far £120,000 has been invested in the platform which was developed by Pogo Digital Healthcare. 

The funding comes from by NHS Lothian, CHSS and the NHS Lothian Charity (formerly Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation).

A Lothian-based GP living with long Covid was at the heart of developing the system. 

The Herald: Dr Amy SmallDr Amy Small

Dr Amy Small said the "new digital system will be hugely beneficial to patients and primary care". 

"It’s a big breakthrough in integrated care. It gives patients direct access to support to help manage their condition."

The system will allow patients to access one-to-one support and advice from experienced advisors who can provide more time than GPs. 

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf welcomed the project. He said:  “Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Long Covid support service not only supports people living with Long Covid, but also helps reduce some of the pressure on NHS services.

"That is why we have funded and continue to support Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland to deliver a Long Covid Support Service.

“I welcome this collaboration and investment. This kind of digital innovation is just one example of the flexible way in which our NHS boards across Scotland are adapting to meet the needs of people with Long Covid."

The Health Secretary added that the Scottish Government is spending £3million this year to support NHS boards develop new models of care.

He added: "I look forward to seeing the full results of the pilot exercise and we are committed to working closely with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland share the learning generated from it to support the sustainability of our health services."  

Interim chief executive at CHSS Allan Cowie said: "For the past two years we’ve been campaigning alongside people living with Long Covid to ensure that systems are in place to help them easily access the care and support they desperately need. 

“This system has the potential to transform access to wraparound care through GP services.

"It has been developed with clinicians and people with Long Covid and we want it to be adopted right across the country as soon as possible. 

“It not only makes this process easier for people living with Long Covid, but it helps to alleviate some of the pressure that primary care is under by allowing clinicians to easily refer their patients into a service they can trust.” 

Professor Tim Walsh, director of innovation for NHS Lothian, said the health board hopes that it will "make a real difference to people living with Long Covid.”