A north-east MP has written to the Scottish Government urging them to follow NHS England in launching long Covid clinics for children.
Andrew Bowie, Conservative MP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, said children across Scotland have been forced to “suffer in silence”.
It follows an announcement by NHS England that they will set up specialist long Covid services for children and young people as part of a £100 million package.
The 15 new paediatric hubs will draw together experts on symptoms such as respiratory problems and fatigue, who can directly treat youngsters, advise family doctors or others caring for them or refer them into other specialist services and clinics.
Mr Bowie has written to Health Secretary Humza Yousaf urging the Scottish Government to follow suit, after being contacted by constituents whose children are still suffering from long Covid.
Specialist clinics have not been established in Scotland, despite growing calls from those who suffer from the condition.
More than 80 have been set up south of the border, following a £34m commitment by NHS England.
‘It’s been life-changing’
Helen Goss’ daughter Anna Hendy is still suffering the effects of long Covid more than a year after contracting the virus.
The eight-year-old Westhill youngster, who has missed most of the last year at Crombie School, suffers daily from a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, migraines and difficulties regulating her temperature.
Ms Goss, who is a trustee of the charity Long Covid Kids, urges the Scottish Government to follow NHS England in setting up specialist clinics for children and adults.
She says many parents in Scotland feel “incredibly dismissed” and “don’t know where to go” to access support for their children.
“I know a lot of parents are finding it very difficult to get a referral to paediatrics and many are just being overwhelmed by their children’s symptoms because there’s so many of them”, Ms Goss says.
“I feel like there’s going to be more children like mine and I don’t want any child to go through what Anna has in the past year.
“It’s been life-changing.”
‘Sitting on its hands’
Mr Bowie claims children across the north-east and the rest of Scotland have been forced to “suffer in silence” because the Scottish Government is “sitting on its hands”.
He adds: “This is fundamentally wrong and Humza Yousaf needs to start sitting up and taking action on the large-scale issue staring him straight in the face.
“The condition needs to be taken seriously not just among adults but with children too.
“This is why the SNP government must follow the UK Government and NHS England’s lead in outlining a clear strategy to tackle long Covid among children – our future generation depend on this.
“With rising case levels particularly in schools, this is all the more important because too many children are suffering with the consequences of this dreadful disease.”
Speaking in Holyrood earlier this month, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she had discussed the issue of specialist clinics “in-depth” with National Clinical Director Jason Leitch and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith.
She told MSPs there is “still a lack of understanding about exactly what specialisms are needed to respond to long Covid”.
Instead, Scotland is funding a “number of research projects to develop that understanding and then from that understanding we will establish the longer-term provision”.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We recognise the impact long Covid has on physical and mental wellbeing and we are working to ensure people have access to the support they need for assessment, diagnosis, care and rehabilitation and in a setting that is as close to their home as possible.
“At present, our NHS in Scotland is already delivering care for children and young people with long Covid, ensuring care is tailored to the individual needs of the child through existing services.
“This is still a relatively new illness and it is important that we continue to improve our understanding of its effects on people.
“We are keeping all aspects under review, including specialist services and funding to ensure people suffering from long Covid receive the best possible care and support.”