NHS boss warns of ‘new upsurge’ in coronavirus survivors needing long-term care

Thousands of coronavirus survivors are expected to need therapy for serious physical and psychological damage, an NHS boss has warned.

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said there has been a “new upsurge” in numbers of Covid-19 patients needing long-term care, as a coronavirus rehabilitation centre was launched this week.

Medical staff at the NHS Seacole Centre in Leatherhead, Surrey, have begun providing care such as physiotherapy for coronavirus patients with heart and lung damage, as well as therapy for those suffering ailments unrelated to the virus.

Coronavirus rehab
Rehab support workers give physiotherapy treatment to Michael Kidd (Victoria Jones/PA)

Mental health staff will also be providing care for those with side-effects like post-intensive care disorder (PICS) which involves persistent emotional, psychological or physical distress following a stay in critical care.

Some 90,000 Covid-19 patients have been treated in hospital over the last three months, and “most” of them will need aftercare services, according to NHS England.

During a visit to the NHS Seacole Centre on Thursday, Sir Simon said: “Just because we’re coming through the peak of coronavirus hospital patients doesn’t mean that we haven’t got this new upsurge in need in other parts of the health service.”

He added: “It’s increasingly clear that there’s a need for physiotherapy, for psychological support, for help with getting back to daily activities.

Coronavirus rehab
Rehab support workers with patient Shirley Hughes (Victoria Jones/PA)

“So this is a centre that brings together specialist NHS support, together with support from the councils, the care services, and that means it will make it easier for people to get back on their feet.”

The temporary facility has 300 inpatient beds, and was named after Mary Seacole, a Jamaican nurse famous for the rehabilitative care she provided to soldiers injured in the Crimean War.

Formerly a military hospital, the centre was transformed over 35 days and has received donated furniture from homeware store Ikea and fans from auto-manufacturer Toyota.

The pioneering facility is expected to be the first of several similar new centres, with locations yet to be confirmed.

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