Publish date: 12 May 2020

Patients recovering from coronavirus have spoken movingly about the physical and emotional legacy of the disease.

Physiotherapist Rebecca Livingston talks to BBC's medical correspondent Fergus Walsh.


In a BBC News report broadcast tonight (Tuesday), medical correspondent Fergus Walsh meets our specialist teams helping these patients on the road to recovery.

Fergus sees our staff caring for 55-year-old Jake who spent three weeks on a ventilator in intensive care and needed a tracheostomy.

"My chances were very, very low," said Jake.

Jake is now receiving rehabilitation care on one of our wards which has been repurposed to treat COVID-19 patients only. There are physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, dieticians, psychologists and many other experts working alongside our nursing and medical teams to support patients’ recovery.

“My understanding is that recovery works in very small steps,” said Jake.

“I am not going to give up... I was given a chance and I am not going to waste it.”

“Now that I know that I will go back to my family, to work, to the normal routine, psychologically, I am much, much stronger.”

In the BBC report we see our specialists helping Jake to sit up for the first time since he came to hospital and take him on a tour of the ward.

Jake’s recovery is an enormous relief to his wife, Natasha, and their daughter, Emily, whom we see talking to him via a video call.

“Every time the doctor would call me, they would say he was not out of danger. It was the hardest time of my life,” said Natasha.

We also meet 66-year-old Eddie in the report, who talks about the psychological impact of the disease. He describes the haunting hallucinations he has experienced after waking up from being on a ventilator for a month in intensive care.

Speaking about patients’ recovery, physiotherapist Rebecca Livingston said: “There is a lot of physical rehabilitation because they have a lot of weakness.

“There is the cognitive impact as well – the delirium that comes from being in an intensive care unit, the confusion from being asleep for many days and waking up to the reality of all of this. It’s huge.”

In a poignant end to his report, Fergus said: “Simply surviving intensive care after this disease is a huge achievement but getting back to full health is another matter. For many, the legacy of coronavirus will be felt far into the future.”

Watch the full report below: