Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “COVID-19 is a new virus and whilst we are rapidly learning about it, research is still necessary to help us properly understand recovery from the virus and its effects on long-term health.”It’s become clear that some patients – estimated to be around 10 per cent – who are recovering from COVID-19 are suffering from symptoms, such as fatigue, muscle aches and headaches, for a prolonged period of time. These are symptoms that are similar to other post-viral syndromes and might well be related to COVID-19 but can also be signs of other conditions, so GPs will want to consider all possible causes before making a diagnosis, and any appropriate referral.
“General practice has been open throughout the pandemic and will be central to managing patients’ long-term psychological and physical health effects of COVID-19 in the community. Patients should be assured that GPs and their teams are following the most up-to-date clinical guidance, to deliver the most appropriate care and support they can to patients who have had or may have had COVID-19. If a patient does have queries or concerns about the treatment plan suggested, we would encourage them to raise these with us during the consultation, where we can work through them together.
“It’s vital that as our understanding of the virus improves, and research into how to treat it and its long-term effects emerges, that guidelines for GPs are rapidly developed so that we can treat and manage COVID-19 in the most appropriate way for patients. GPs also need quick and easy access to appropriate diagnostic tools and rehabilitation services in the community for our patients who have had COVID-19.
“As well as delivering care to patients with conditions related directly or indirectly to COVID-19, GPs and our teams are also preparing for an expanded flu vaccination programme and a potential second wave of the virus, as well as continuing to care for the majority of patients who have non-COVID related conditions. It is essential that the GP workforce has the capacity and resources to handle these pressures as we approach what is set to be a busy winter.”