A LONG Covid expert has told MSPs that she is “utterly overwhelmed” by demand at her private clinic in Dundee amid warnings that there is little support for patients on the NHS.

Members of Holyrood’s Covid-19 Recovery Committee were told by one specialist that people are not seeking medical help because “there’s nothing on offer”.

Dr Amy Small, a clinical advisor to Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland (CHSS), said people were managing the condition on their own because “they’ve been repeatedly told that there’s nothing on offer for them”.

Dr Small, a locum GP in East Lothian who also has Long Covid, said: “There’s a perception that people are getting better but actually I think it’s just people not presenting and not telling us that they are still unwell.”

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It came as a Scottish GP leader said a survey by his own organisation found that family doctors were not seeing huge numbers of Long Covid patients despite an estimated 175,000 sufferers in Scotland, including 94,000 people living with symptoms for over a year.

Dr David Shackles, joint chair of the Royal College of GPs Scotland, said: “We didn’t find people feeling that they were overwhelmed with it.

"But we’re also aware from self-reporting that there seem to be more people out there who feel that they have long Covid, but they don’t appear to be reporting to us.

“That may be an issue, that’s a problem.”

This contrasted with the experience of Dr Claire Taylor, a GP who specialised in working with Long Covid patients after previous experience with an ME charity.

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In early 2022, Dr Taylor set up Tayside Complete Health Ltd, a clinic which offers face-to-face and virtual consultations to patients UK-wide, after being told there was no money to fund a service on the NHS.

She said: “Obviously there is an inequality there if people have to pay - but it was either that or nothing.

“The majority of my patients are female, they are usually working age, they are usually previously fit and well, and they are plunged into an utter nightmare.

“They go on a wild goose chase trying to go to various different specialties and at the moment they don’t get much of a coordination in their care, and they end up finding their way to me.

“I’m completely and utterly overwhelmed - as in hundreds of patients. I’m booked up for months.”

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Dr Taylor told MSPs that her work included virtual consultations with some Long Covid patients who are bedbound by their symptoms.

“A lot of the time they can’t speak to me,” she said.

“It’s their parents or their carers because even talking for 10 minutes takes a lot of these people to the point where they can’t function.

“Those people can’t access healthcare. They can’t make it to NHS clinics, they’re not going to be going to a rehab clinic to do physio.”

Dr Taylor said growing evidence indicated that Long Covid is a form of vasculitis - inflammation of the blood vessels.

She said this explains why it can affect every part of the body and put people at increased risk of heart attacks for months after a Covid infection.

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She said: “[Long Covid is] a vasculitis and only once we target that - and there are studies ongoing - that is when we will be able to properly treat and rehabilitate people.

“This is not a psychological disorder, this is not ‘thinking yourself better’, this is a medical condition with roots in the blood vessels.

“And Long Covid is the canary in the coalmine, because the increased risk of a [myocardial infarction] is 50% for 18 months after Covid - that is a stunning statistic.

“The canaries in the coalmine are getting symptoms of Long Covid - the rest are not, they’re just getting the heart attack, with the same pathology underlying it.”