Long Covid services are “patchy and overstretched” and the NHS will need to hire more than 1,000 new consultants, physios and counsellors to treat patients, Oxford University professors have warned.

Around 60,000 people are estimated to be suffering lingering symptoms more than three months after contracting coronavirus and some have warned that it could become a bigger public health problem than the excess deaths caused by the pandemic.

Prof Trisha Greenhalgh, a leading expert at the University of Oxford, told a House of Lords select committee that those suffering long-term effects were experiencing “inconsistent and fragmented care” and recommended urgent action.

In written evidence she said a four-tier clinical service was required, comprising self-care, generalist care, specialist care and specialist management of specific complications.

Each Clinical Commissioning Group population of 225,000 would require a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a consultant-level clinician and a social support worker, as well as administrative staff, she said. But she acknowledged that GPs in particular were “unlikely to have the capacity or the appetite” for setting up and running a new service.

Long Covid is usually dominated by fatigue and breathlessness but patients have reported a vast range of symptoms and a minority show signs of organ damage.

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