A charity is warning that many people with long Covid are becoming increasingly desperate, with calls to its helpline and visits to online resources spiralling amid lengthening waits for NHS support.
Asthma + Lung UK has said that in the past six months around half a million people have visited its online long Covid health advice or called its helpline for wide-ranging symptoms, including breathlessness and persistent coughs.
The numbers of people viewing the charity’s webpages nearly doubled from September to March, as cases of the Omicron variant spiked across the UK.
Worryingly, the charity has warned that many callers are at crisis point and so desperate to ease their symptoms they are asking for advice about buying oxygen, which it has said can be extremely dangerous without a prescription.
The helpline has also taken calls from people wanting information on private healthcare providers because they’re struggling to get help from the NHS.
Almost a third of people with long Covid are now waiting more than 15 weeks even for an initial appointment with a long Covid clinic in England, it added.
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive of Asthma + Lung UK, said: “As we near the grim milestone of two million people living with long Covid, there is still a dismal lack of treatments for this disabling condition, which is leaving people fighting for breath and devastating every aspect of their life, health, work and relationships.
“Coupled with a lack of support and long wait times for specialist care, hundreds of thousands of people are turning to charities like Asthma + Lung UK, desperate for vital advice and support.
“The government must invest in more research into possible treatments and staffing for long Covid clinics to help people with this new and unpredictable condition to get their lives back on track,” she added.