THE SNP Government has been told to offer more support for more than 170,000 people in Scotland estimated to have long Covid – amid accusations they are being “neglected”.

New figures published by the Office for National Statistics estimates that 173,000 in Scotland have self-reported long Covid.

The upper estimate suggests the number could be as high as 199,000 – an 18% rise on the 169,000 patients in Scotland believed to be suffering from the condition three months earlier.

The Scottish LibDems has warned that the Government’s long Covid support fund is worth just £10m over three years and have compared this to half the £20m set aside by SNP ministers to hold a second referendum on independence next year.

The LibDems want specialist long Covid clinics to be set up in every health board and the training of specialist long Covid community nurses to offer in-home support.

The party has also asked for country-wide access to long Covid physiotherapy and multi-disciplinary rehab and a policy of no financial detriment for workers who are absent for long periods of time due to long Covid.

Scottish LibDem leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, said: “173,000 Scots are suffering from long Covid but when it comes to care and support their government is nowhere to be found.

“The SNP and Greens have ignored their pleas for help and consistently neglected all those whose lives have thrown into disarray by the condition.

“Rates of long Covid are higher in Scotland than they are in England, Wales and Northern Ireland so the government cannot use the excuse that the demand for services is not there.

“The First Minister is devoting twice as much money to her efforts to break up the UK as she is to helping those people suffering long Covid.

“We need to see dedicated clinics across Scotland and a commitment to country-wide access to long Covid physiotherapy and multi-disciplinary rehab.”

The Scottish Conservatives have called on Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to “stop dithering” and provide more support.

Scottish Conservative health spokesperson, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “These alarming figures must act as a wake-up call to Humza Yousaf to stop dithering and act now.

“The ONS are clear that Long Covid cases are rising in Scotland, on the SNP’s watch, while they are falling south of the border, where specialist clinics are up and running.

“The SNP Health Secretary has ignored repeated calls from sufferers and opposition politicians, like myself, to deliver the required funding for specialised Long Covid clinics, which are already in operation in England. He can no longer ignore these calls in light of these figures.”

He added: “Almost 200,000 Scots are now battling Long Covid , and yet GPs are struggling to point patients towards the specialist care they need.

“The SNP must belatedly act now. As Parliament returns next week, the suffering of Long Covid patients must be a top priority for Humza Yousaf.

“He should get behind the proposals I set out more than a year ago for a network of clinics across Scotland.”

Mr Yousaf said: “All NHS Scotland boards are providing assessment and support for people with long Covid, delivered across the full range of services provided by our NHS.

"The Scottish Government is investing an initial £3 million from our long Covid Support Fund to provide NHS boards and partners with additional resource to deliver the best local models of care for assessment, diagnostic tests, and support for the treatment or management of symptoms.

“Today I met staff from NHS Lanarkshire’s long Covid rehabilitation service and patients at University Hospital Monklands to see how the Board has used the £320,000 awarded to assess patients and provide access to services including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychology, dietetics and speech and language therapy.  

“The service, which has had over 200 referrals since the end of May, is just one example of the flexible and tailored way in which NHS Boards are adapting to meet the needs of people living with long Covid, supported by Scottish Government funding.

“Initiatives being supported by the Scottish Government’s long Covid support fund include key elements of care that are also offered by long Covid assessment clinics elsewhere in the UK.”