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Patients' Experiences of "Long COVID" in the Community and Recommendations for Improving Services: A Quality Improvement Survey.

  • Razai, Mohammad Sharif1, 2
  • Al-Bedaery, Roaa1
  • Anand, Laxmi2
  • Fitch, Katherine2
  • Okechukwu, Hannah3
  • Saraki, Teniola M3
  • Oakeshott, Pippa1
  • 1 Population Health Research Institute, St George's University of London, London, UK.
  • 2 Wandsworth Primary Care Network, Chatfield Health Care, London, UK.
  • 3 Imperial College London, London, UK.
Published Article
Journal of primary care & community health
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1177/21501327211041846
PMID: 34488505


"Long COVID" is a multisystem disease that lasts for 4 or more weeks following initial symptoms of COVID-19. In the UK, at least 10% of patient report symptoms at 12 weeks following a positive COVID-19 test. The aims of this quality improvement survey were to explore patients' acute and post-acute "long" COVID-19 symptoms, their experiences of community services and their recommendations for improving these services. Seventy patients diagnosed with COVID were randomly selected from 2 large socially and ethnically diverse primary care practices. Of those contactable by telephone, 85% (41/48) agreed to participate in the quality improvement survey. They were interviewed by telephone using a semi-structured questionnaire about community services for COVID-19 patients. Interviews lasted 10 to 15 minutes. Forty-nine percent of patients reported at least 1 post-acute COVID-19 symptom. The most common were severe fatigue (45%), breathlessness (30%), neurocognitive difficulties (such as poor memory), poor concentration and "brain fog" (30%), headaches (20%), and joint pain (20%). Many patients felt isolated and fearful, with scant information about community resources and little safety netting advice. Patients also expected more from primary care with over half (56%) recommending regular phone calls and follow up from healthcare staff as the most important approach in their recovery. In line with patients' requests for more support, the practices now routinely refer patients with long COVID to an on-site social prescriber who explores how they are getting on, refers them to the GP or practice nurse when required, and sign posts them to support services in the community.

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