18 June 2021
We’re supporting the mental health needs of patients at a new long COVID lung health clinic at the University Hospital of North Tees (Stockton-on-Tees).
New specialist clinics have been set up by North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to help people who are suffering from a range of long-term effects of COVID-19. Effects can include fatigue, breathlessness, anxiety, depression and other debilitating symptoms.
The centre is led by respiratory consultant Kevin Conroy from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s lung health department.
Vicky Taylor, a mental health advanced nurse practitioner from our Teesside liaison psychiatry team, works as part of the new lung health clinic team. Vicky said “As well as the physical impact that this virus has had, there has also been an impact on people’s mental health. We aim to provide a holistic assessment.
“We can identify any changes in mood, anxiety and trauma from patients, as well as other issues including increased alcohol and substance misuse.
“For some patients, this could include the impact of being in hospital, changes due to a deterioration in someone’s physical health or experiencing isolation.
“We can offer psychological support and signpost or refer patients to other health experts when appropriate.”
Dr Conroy said: “We are delighted to have this clinic here in Teesside.
“We are able to offer a comprehensive assessment and support for patients with common symptoms like breathlessness and fatigue, many of whom benefit from the reassurance our service can provide. Some patients have other symptoms requiring different specialist services which we are able to help direct them to.
“We now know so much more about this virus, we continue to learn more every day and are able to do more and more to help.”
Vivien Saunders, lead physiotherapist (North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust) in the long COVID clinic service, said “Patients can either be referred by their GP or another health professional using an established pathway.
“We can assess people and see if they have any underlying symptoms such as breathlessness and chest issues. This is an illness which is affecting many people for longer periods – we are doing our best to respond to that need.
“The idea is to get patients to the right service at the right time.”