• Friday, October 07, 2022

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NHS observatory to study impact of long Covid in minorities

Medical staff and workers take part in a national “clap for carers” to show thanks for the work of Britain’s NHS (National Health Service) workers and other frontline medical staff around the country at the “NHS Nightingale” field hospital in London on April 30, 2020. (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

THE NHS race and health observatory started a three-year study to investigate the long-term impact of Covid on NHS workers across the UK from ethnic backgrounds. 

The new ‘Reach-Out’ research will be led by the University of Leicester in collaboration with UCL, University of Nottingham, national stakeholders and front-line healthcare workers.

According to a statement, data has already been collected from over 18,000 healthcare workers from a range of ethnicities as part of earlier mixed-methods studies conducted by UK-REACH.

The data collected between December 2020 and July 2021 will now be analysed with data updated to reflect participants’ feedback over time as part of the new study starting in December.

Feedback from participants through further questionnaires, structured interviews and focus groups will examine levels of support, availability and effectiveness of various treatments for managing the impacts of acute and long-Covid.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics estimate around 1.2 million people in the UK have long-COVID symptoms.

Dr Habib Naqvi, director of the Observatory, said: “People from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have shouldered a disproportionate burden in the Covid-19 pandemic, and we are increasingly concerned that history is repeating itself in the case of long-Covid.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic healthcare workers, who make nearly 25 per cet of NHS staff, are at high risk of Covid-19 infection and adverse outcomes. The ongoing mental, physical and occupational impacts of long-Covid on healthcare staff and on patient care are as yet unknown. Urgent research is needed to aid the recovery of the healthcare system, and this programme of work will help to support that.”

Long-Covid symptoms range from extreme fatigue, lack of smell and taste and joint pain, to heart palpitations and issues with memory, the statement added.

Mario Andrew Alfonso, an anaesthetic nurse, said: “I am a Covid-19 survivor who has been suffering from the effects of the long covid syndrome. I continue to experience a variety of symptoms that affects numerous systems in my body after recovering from an acute infection of Covid in 2020. It’s not just long-term physical effects but also the long-term mental effects and their impact on your psychological wellbeing.”

Dr Manish Pareek, associate clinical professor, infectious diseases and chief investigator of UK-REACH, University of Leicester, said: “Healthcare workers have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and there is emerging data on the long-term implication of having Covid-19 – so-called long-Covid in this group. Unfortunately, long-Covid in healthcare workers remains poorly understood and we are delighted that REACH-OUT will build on the work of UK-REACH to research this area and inform the NHS and policy-makers.”

Prof Katherine Woolf of UCL Medical School, said: “A quarter of NHS staff, and nearly a third of the study’s participants are from ethnic minority groups. Unfortunately, they have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, so it’s especially important to find out how they can be supported to recover.”

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