Eluned Morgan, Minister for Health and Social Services
Last June, I launched the Adferiad programme – a £5m package of services for people who are recovering from the long-term effects of COVID-19 in Wales, including long COVID. As part of that announcement, I said we would review the progress of the programme every six months.
In my Oral Statement on 8th February I provided Members of the Senedd with an update on the outcome of the first review and the progress made to develop long COVID services. I also confirmed that I would be considering the priorities for the next six months so the NHS can continue to develop the expertise of our workforce, adapt services to meet the needs of our population and ensure these services are embedded as part of our wider COVID-19 recovery planning.
As we continue to respond to the demands of the pandemic response it is vital that the development of community services is maintained to support those who are recovering from the effects of COVID-19. So today I am announcing a further £5million of Adferiad programme funding to be allocated to Health Boards in 2022/23 to support the continuation of health boards’ long COVID services.
The Adferiad programme has expanded and enhanced primary and community-based services in every health board and we have developed a clear pathway to improve access and speed up referral where people need more specialist care. The model of community led rehabilitation services appears to be meeting the needs of those who have used the services and by clinicians as an effective way to support people.
It is hoped by the end of the next six-month period in July, health boards in Wales will take the opportunity to begin to expand the community model to treat and support people with other long-term conditions which have a similar impact as long COVID, including the likes of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). This would help create effective long term intervention services and reduce variation treating people with different conditions and diagnoses.
The funding will also support the continuation of the self-management COVID recovery app and the All-Wales guideline for the management of long COVID, which have been effective digital tools in supporting people to self-manage their symptoms and providing healthcare professionals with up-to-date advice and learning to support the diagnosis and treatment of long COVID.
We are continuing to learn more about the long-term effects of COVID-19 and how it can affect people in many different ways. We continue to evaluate our approach of treating, supporting and managing people through our unique service model as the most efficient and effective way of achieving the best outcomes for people experiencing long COVID. We are also continuing to participate in several research studies to understand the best way to support people’s recovery.