People suffering the long-lasting effects of Covid in the north and north-east have considered travelling abroad to receive specialist treatment for the “debilitating” condition which has left some of them “housebound”, MSPs heard.
Callum O’Dwyer, 30, from Aberdeen, was joined by campaigners including a women from Inverness to explain the reality of their conditions in a special meeting at the Scottish Parliament.
Mr O’Dwyer has suffered with the illness since March 2020 and said it is tough to see people travel and move on with their lives while he is still “locked down” by the virus due to muscle weakness, fatigue and heart, lung and brain issues.
He had to move in with his parents in Aberdeenshire to receive care for the condition.
He said: “Whenever I speak to my GP, he tells me the same thing: ‘There’s no pathway, and there’s no treatment.’
“For so many people, huge aspects of their lives have been completely torn away from them with long Covid and the Scottish Government might think in terms of what they’re doing is enough – but it is not enough.”
He called on Health Secretary Humza Yousaf to listen to the pleas of sufferers and invest in clinics and research into long Covid, adding: “Have that ambition because some of us are barely holding it together.
“Long Covid isn’t going anywhere and we’re not going to take a substandard level of care.”
Travel to Germany
He said he has considered travelling to Germany for apheresis treatment – but he cannot afford the “considerable expense”.
The treatment is based on the fact that Covid-19 can cause blood clots and damage the lining of small blood vessels, potentially causing long Covid.
Freja Lundberg, from Inverness, who tested positive in January 2021, said she has been left too frail and terrified to leave the house without assistance.
She requires the use of a wheelchair because of the extreme muscle fatigue and breathlessness.
She said the condition has left her “housebound” and said it is frustrating to know there are currently no care options.
Ms Lundberg previously wrote directly to Nicola Sturgeon asking for help.
In an open letter last year, she claimed: “Like so many others, I have been sidelined because you do not know what to do with me. We need help now.”
Also at the meeting, Catherine Ramsey, 22, said she fell behind in her university studies because of the debilitating effects of long Covid.
She caught the virus in December 2021 and has been told by doctors “there was nothing they could do” after tests came back normal.
Children’s experience of Covid
MSPs at the cross-party meeting also heard video testimonies of children in Scotland who are unable to go to school or see their friends because of the effects of long Covid.
The campaigners shared their experiences at a cross-party meeting with experts and MSPs in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
The Long Covid Scotland campaign group has now issued nine actions it says are required by the Scottish Government.
They include recognising the condition as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 and providing additional funding for specialist clinics.
Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie, who led the meeting, said long Covid sufferers are being “abandoned”.
She said: “It is our intention to take those stories directly into the heart of the Scottish Government, and into the Scottish Parliament, and try and secure change for them.”