Waiting list for Limerick long covid clinic which hasn’t opened

Dr Siobhan Ni Bhriain, HSE lead for long Covid.

A NEW long Covid clinic in Limerick has a waiting list of 24 patients, despite the fact it won’t be open until next month.

According to the Irish Examiner, University Hospital Limerick has faced “significant challenges” in finding specialist staff to run the clinic, and recruitment is continuing even as the clinic prepares to open.

The new clinic will be led by an infectious diseases consultant supported by a team of specialists, and will start by treating the 24 people on the waiting list.

In the meantime, some patients have been seen in the hospital’s general medicine and respiratory clinics.

Patients with post-acute Covid have experienced symptoms lasting up to three months after their initial infection with Covid-19, while those with long Covid have symptoms continuing for any length of time after that.

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While it is not known how many people are suffering from long Covid, the HSE is using international estimates that between 10 and 20 per cent of people who had the virus develop long-term complications.

All of the HSE’s planned eight long Covid clinics have faced problems in finding staff. Last month, the HSE’s lead for long Covid Siobhán Ní Bhriain told the Oireachtas Health Committee none of the clinics were fully staffed but many were operational.

In Limerick, the problem is particularly acute in terms of finding specialised therapists, although funding has been made available for these roles. New jobs for nurses and other specialists have also been funded.

“We continue working to progress recruitment for the approved support posts, which are at various stages, with some key posts remaining to be filled,” a spokesman for the UL Hospital Group said.

“We are currently triaging these patients and will offer some appointments in December based on clinical need. It is anticipated this will be further developed during the first quarter of 2023 as more staff are recruited,” he added.