Coronavirus has presented the health and wellbeing industry with greater challenges than it’s ever faced before. But out of the rubble left by lockdown we’re already seeing green shoots of positivity; this is especially evident for public health referral schemes.
Many of the 166 schemes using ReferAll’s software are reporting that referral rates from healthcare professionals, which were at an all-time high even before lockdown, are bouncing back remarkably quickly as the NHS seeks to improve the nation’s health.
Furthermore, there is an as yet unrealised opportunity coming our way and we, as a sector, must be prepared. With ‘long Covid’ now officially recognised and NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) developing guidelines for doctors on dealing with it, funding should be made available for rehabilitation. And no one is better placed to take on this challenge than our industry, and in particular referral scheme providers.
The Zoe Covid Symptom Study has produced figures suggesting that 10% of people who contracted Covid-19 remain unwell after three weeks and 5% continue to be ill for months. Rehabilitating our nation from Covid is going to require a team effort and we should be leading the charge. The GOV.UK website is already recommending that ‘patients recovering from COVID-19 should speak to their GP about local care pathways for support and assessment of any long-term symptoms or health problems’ and the Government have created an online recovery portal.
Funding should follow and we must engage, not for the opportunistic chance of short-term funding, but as a long-term delivery partner.
Scheme providers and operators that can help should begin getting their offer ready now; get long Covid rehab schemes up and running right away, so the we as an industry has something to offer the NHS ‘off the shelf’. This is our chance to shine.
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