Why is the NHS ill-equipped to care for Long Covid patients? Lessons from other chronic illness and ‘medically unexplained symptoms’

If mainstream media reports or government and NHS discourse vis-à-vis Long Covid were to be believed, you would be forgiven for thinking that severe, complex, multisystem and disabling post-viral sequelae are unprecedented and unique to Long Covid. The truth is, they are not. Other patient groups (most notably, people with ME/CFS - myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome) have been reporting post-viral and post-infectious symptoms strikingly similar to Long Covid for decades. Unfortunately, the health services, government and media have largely chosen to ignore these patients, not infrequently becoming complicit in vilification, marginalisation and systematic neglect. This series of blogs looks at how and why we could – and should – have been far better prepared to care for Long Covid patients, if only the healthcare system and associated structures had indulged a little less in institutional hubris and focused a little more on listening to patients.