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Almost 1,200 adults in Galway unable to work due to ‘Long Covid’

Almost 1,200 adults in Galway remain unable to work due to the effects of Long Covid – in part because they cannot get access to the medical care they need.

That’s according to Galway/Roscommon TD Denis Naughten, who has called on the Government to treat the surge in Long Covid patients with the same urgency as the initial Covid-19 infections.

“These 1,164 Galway patients are trying to access medical care, along with over 21,000 adults nationally, who are likely to be suffering from Long Covid to such an extent that they are unable to work,” he said.

“This is despite promises since September last year that a treatment pathway would be put in place by the HSE,” he added.

Symptoms of Long Covid include fatigue and brain fog, which are experienced at least three months after the initial infection for significant periods of time, in some cases over two years.

Professor Jack Lambert of the Mater Hospital told the Oireachtas Health Committee earlier this year that patients with the condition ‘act very much like patients who have experienced closed head injuries’.

The World Health Organisation has defined Long Covid as a condition that occurs in individuals with a history of probable or confirmed SARS CoV-2 infection, usually three months from the onset of Covid-19 with symptoms that last for at least two months and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

“Last September, after I questioned the Health Minister on the issue of treatment for Long Covid patients, the HSE stated that it planned to establish specialist long covid clinics yet today we are still waiting for these to become operational,” said Deputy Naughten.

“Long Covid patients presenting to our health service with complex health conditions will overwhelm our hospitals, which are already struggling with the winter overcrowding.

“We cannot just sleepwalk into a crisis of chronic illness, which will push people already on waiting lists for treatment since before the pandemic even further down these horrendous waiting lists,” he added.

This week, the Regional Group of TDs – of which Deputy Naughten is a member – is seeking a Government commitment in the Dáil to ensure that Long Covid services are rolled out across the country immediately.

His figures are based on a county-by-county breakdown of people who claimed the Covid Enhanced Illness Benefit payment from the Department of Social Protection.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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