A cross-party group of MPs’, chaired by layla Moran MP, has demanded that the government step up support for those suffering from ‘long Covid’, describing them as the “forgotten victims” of the pandemic.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus also called on the prime minister to meet with bereaved families who have lost loved ones to the disease and stop “giving them the cold shoulder," after it was revealed that government officials turned down their request to meet with Boris Johnson.
The APPG on coronavirus was launched last month and now has 65 members, including eight Conservative MPs and peers. It has so far received almost 1,200 written evidence submissions, of which over half - or 662 - have been from people suffering from long Covid. Another 195 written submissions were received from bereaved families.
In a letter to Boris Johnson from Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the APPG Layla Moran, the cross-party group has urged the government to:
- Formally recognise people living with 'long Covid' and expand research on the long-term effects of coronavirus on people’s health, to include those who were never hospitalised or tested.
- Set up a working group to address the needs of people living with ‘long Covid’, including developing new guidelines for employers and GPs.
- Meet with bereaved families and commit to providing mental health support tailored specifically to them.
- Launch an immediate inquiry into the advice given by the NHS 111 service, following reports black people were asked if their lips were blue despite the symptom being difficult to detect in those with darker skin.
The group’s second set of recommendations today come after it called last week for a ‘zero Covid’ approach that would aim to eliminate community transmission of the virus in the UK. At the last PMQs before recess, Boris Johnson said he would be “very happy to look” at the group’s final recommendations.
Liberal Democrat MP and chair of the APPG on Coronavirus Layla Moran said:
“Those living with the long-term impact of Covid have become the forgotten victims of this pandemic. Many are suffering daily from debilitating symptoms but feel they’re not being listened to or taken seriously.
“It’s vital the government listens to these concerns and steps up support including for those who weren’t hospitalised or tested. We also need further efforts to boost research into treatments that could provide much-needed relief to patients.
“We’ve heard harrowing evidence from those who have lost loved ones to this terrible disease and have been given the cold shoulder by Number 10. The prime minister must commit to meeting with bereaved families and agree to their calls for a judge-led public inquiry.”
The APPG on coronavirus has received 662 submissions from those who have ongoing health problems due to the disease. Eighteen symptoms have been highlighted in the written submissions, including lasting breathing problems, purple toes, muscle ache and exhaustion, showing the range of long-lasting impacts the disease can have. In one submission a long Covid suffer said they had experienced sixty-six symptoms to date.
Many of those suffering from long-term coronavirus symptoms who provided evidence were angered that existing categories or illnesses were being used to describe their symptoms, for example ME of chronic fatigue. One submission stated that “compartmentalising long Covid into an existing label is a route to dismissal.” Another said “doctors often tend to brush off your symptoms when you’re 20, I feel just as fragile and in need of support as the elderly.”
Long Covid victims are also concerned about lack of support and treatment from the government and NHS. One said that “there appears to be very little focus on the part of the government on the ongoing very poor health of potentially hundreds of thousands of people,” while another added that “help is scarce and a postcode lottery.” Others are worried that employers do not recognise long Covid and feel "forced to return to work." One GP said there were no guidelines on how to manage patients with long Covid, underlining the need for clearer guidance.
The APPG has received 195 written submissions from bereaved relatives who have lost loved ones to coronavirus. One stated that: ‘Our questions are numerous and unanswered, our nights still sleepless. Decisions made that have led to the deaths of people like my father must be properly acknowledged and addressed, if, as a country, we are to spare other families the same fate." Another read: ‘My daughter was twenty-one. She should have been safe and protected from the virus while in hospital.'
Many bereaved families reported they were dealing with prolonged grief and were in need of mental health support tailored specifically to them. A number of groups and individuals have also backed calls for a judge-led public inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus to find out what went wrong and help give them closure.
The inquiry also heard that the Prime Minister has so far refused to meet with bereaved families or shown any willingness to listen to their pleas. A letter from the Department of Health and Social Care to 'Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK’ dated the 16 July 2020 stated that: “You also requested a meeting with the Prime Minister and with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. Regrettably, due to the current pandemic, they will be unable to meet with you at this time.”
The APPG was also alerted to reports from bereaved families that the NHS 111 service had asked black people “are your lips blue?” as one the questions to establish the severity of a coronavirus case. This is concerning as the APPG was also warned that blue lips are often difficult to detect in people from black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities.
More information on the APPG on Coronavirus is available here: