Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has expressed concern at the length of time it is taking to set up specialist long COVID treatment services in Northern Ireland, after an announcement suggesting they will only be established in late October.
It includes an assessment service for those with symptoms consistent with the infections which have lasted for 12 weeks or more.
“Long COVID is something which is happening right now, we cannot wait until late October to implement full treatment services. This is something which has long been known about and which has been raised many times over the past year,” said Ms Bradshaw.
“Furthermore, the evidence around new variants of the virus is long COVID will only become more prevalent as a share of confirmed cases. Northern Ireland is already behind the rest of the UK in establishing specialist centres and there is no excuse for waiting another four or five months to deliver treatment people need right now.
“There will rightly be concerns the delivery of full post-viral services is going the same way as the delivery of ME services, where 7,000 people with the condition still lack a clear lead and a clear pathway across all Trust areas.
“Post-viral services, including for people experiencing chronic fatigue symptoms, should be put in place long before October. If, for whatever reason, a full service cannot be put in place until Halloween, then it is essential an interim service be put in place immediately to provide vital support to the many people already affected.”