Health secretary Matt Hancock visits University College Hospital 

22/10/2020 00:00 
Health secretary Matt Hancock visited University College Hospital yesterday to see for himself our post-Covid-19 service set up to help survivors of the virus with their long-term recovery.

The team behind the clinic have conducted some 1,000 appointments since they started seeing patients in person in May.

The clinic, which is held three times a week, is led by integrated respiratory physicians and brings together multidisciplinary and multiprofessional expertise including physiotherapists, respiratory physiologists, psychologists, cardiologists, neurologists and infectious disease doctors.

The secretary of state spent some time talking to staff and patients including clinic lead Melissa Heightman, respiratory physiotherapist Rebecca Livingston and respiratory physiologist Helen Purcell.

Dr Heightman said: “We established the service in response to concerns about the clinical safety of patients, given a growing appreciation of early and late post-Covid-19 complications and symptoms. We have tried to respond to patient need at a time when it has been difficult for patients to access healthcare and when post-Covid-19 complications were poorly understood.”

Mr Hancock also spoke to patient Gina Harding who was attending her first appointment at the clinic. She was referred by her GP in Barnet after she was clinically diagnosed with Covid-19 in February and has been feeling unwell since. Gina has complained of chest pain, severe fatigue, pins and needles in her arms and legs, nausea and dizziness.

The health secretary ended his visit with a short interview to the BBC in which he pledged funding for treatment and research.

Earlier, Mr Hancock had a private meeting with chief executive Marcel Levi, chief financial officer Tim Jaggard, chair Julia Neuberger and chief nurse Flo Panel-Coates.

Prof Levi said: “UCLH has played a highly successful role during the first wave of the pandemic. I am really proud of the team for also leading the way in the management of patients with longstanding post-Covid-19 symptoms. It is just another example of the teamwork and innovative thinking which drive our dedicated staff to address any and all challenges, including the possible re-emergence of the pandemic in London.”

The service for post-Covid-19 patients was also the subject of a double page spread in the Evening Standard on Monday with a long interview with Melissa Heightman that you can read here.

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