NICE and SIGN announce latest guideline will address Long COVID

NICE and the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN) have announced they will work with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to develop a guideline on persistent effects of COVID-19 (Long Covid) on patients.

NICE and SIGN will develop the guideline jointly with the RCGP, alongside an independent cross-specialty clinical group. People have reported persistent symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of how ill they were initially or whether they were hospitalised. Longer term impacts can include on-going shortness of breath, fatigue, heart, lung, kidney, neurological and musculoskeletal problems. It is estimated there could be as many as 60,000 people in the UK who probably have Long COVID.

The guideline will address, among other things, a formal definition of the disease, how to identify on-going symptoms and a definition of best practice investigation and treatment options to support the management of the condition across diverse communities.

Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “There is growing evidence to suggest COVID-19 is a multi-system disease that for many people involves persistent symptoms with longer term impacts on their health. It is important, therefore, that people requiring ongoing support and treatment are identified quickly and are supported by the NHS throughout every stage of their journey. We also want to ensure that clinicians have clear guidance on how best to support patients struggling with this newly emerging disease.”

Roberta James, Programme Lead for SIGN, said: “National guidance in this emerging field will help to align services with the needs of people who may be at risk of receiving inconsistent care. The guideline will support health and care services with recommendations on monitoring, testing, treatment options and the provision of advice and support for those who are experiencing these long-term effects.”

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:“Treating or managing any new virus or condition is a challenge for healthcare professionals whose priority is always trying to deliver the best possible care for their patients. The College is delighted to be working with both NICE and SIGN to develop this guideline. It aims to support GPs and other healthcare professionals to ensure all patients with long term effects of COVID-19, including those diagnosed in the community irrespective of whether they received a positive test or not, can be cared for in the best possible way, based on the latest evidence.” 

It is expected that the guideline on the longer term patient impact of COVID-19 will be published by the end of the year.